By Liz Sullivan
Benjamin Franklin once said that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Taking those words into account, the Diocese of San Jose hosted a forum on Emergency Preparedness and Response on January 30 at Our Lady of Refuge Church.
Close to 100 people from across the Diocese, including many chancery and parish staff members, came out to hear and learn from San Jose Police Department Chief Eddie Garcia and members of the department’s School Liaison Unit about safety in schools and parishes.
“This shows a lot that the Diocese and all of you care enough that you asked us to come out here today,” said Chief Garcia.
The Diocese of San Jose is home to 26 elementary schools and six high schools.
Chief Garcia said that since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, where 20 students and six staff were shot and killed, there have been 200 school shootings and 138 deaths. However, none in the Diocese, or in the City of San Jose.
“There is no safer place for your kids than your school,” added Chief Garcia. “We take our training very seriously. Don’t think this will never happen at your school because it could. If you see something suspicious, say something.”
The chief and members of the School Liaison Unit shared that San Jose Police, along with the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association, employ the “Run, Hide, Defend” program to respond to an active shooter.
Among the tenets of the program are:
- Plan and prepare ahead of time
- Be aware of your environment
- Always know your escape route
- Never approach an officer during an active shooter event
- Follow all instructions and keep a safe distance
- Your survival options: RUN, HIDE, DEFEND
“This is a tremendously important issue, especially over the last few months, so thank you for coming out,” said Diocese of San Jose Coadjutor Bishop Oscar Cantú.
One of the organizers of the event was Diocese of San Jose Chancellor, Linda Tully.
Among the next steps are:
- Roll out an online training program for employees
- Incorporate resource material in the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)
- Form a task force of interested priests, principals and staff from parishes and schools ro develop a Diocesan prevention and response plan.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out,” she said. “This is just the beginning for us in the Diocese. We want to engage all of you and work with you to develop a diocesan plan. Stay tuned for details.”