Columbine Tragedy Served as Wake-up Call

Columbine Tragedy Served as Wake-up Call

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Jed Boal ReportingIt was five years ago today that 13 people were killed at Columbine High School when two teenage gunmen opened fire. Today the school was closed as family and friends took time to reflect on the tragedy. Tonight the town will gather at a park next to the school for a candlelight service honoring the victims.

The tragedy at Columbine was a wake-up call for schools across the country. It caused schools here in Utah took a closer look at their own safety.

April 20th, 1999, two students stormed Columbine High School murdered 12 students and a teacher and then killed themselves. In the aftermath, school leaders, law enforcement and parents brainstormed things they could do to make sure it never happened here.

In the Jordan School District the schools and police have forged a stronger bond, and resource officers really listen to students.

Deputy Michael Bendixen, Brighton High Resource Officer: “They let me know anything and everything, and if it's something pressing it's going to go through the chain of command here at the school and we're going to take care of the problem."

Sgt. Shane Hudson with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office compiled an emergency response book with detailed information on each school that could be critical in an emergency.

Sgt. Shane Hudson: “It gives us an idea of what the campuses look like, where roof hatches are. All that preparatory work is done for us. It would save time and save lives in a situation like columbine."

Other post-Columbine initiatives try to set a new tone in school and shut down harassment. Dr. Kerrie Naylor chairs the Jordan School District safe schools risk management committee.

Dr. Kerrie Naylor: “There's been a heightened awareness of zero tolerance of bullying behavior and taking all threats very seriously."

Student outbursts are not dismissed as jokes. Schools have crisis plans. And schools make sure students get counseling if concerns arise. All are results of the lesson of Columbine, which school leaders say has had a positive effect on all aspects of school life.

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