Indiana State Police address Amish Schools about Safety and Active Shootersby Indiana State Police on August 14, 2014
Elkhart County – Several Indiana State Police Troopers from the Bremen Post recently addressed the Amish Community in Elkhart County about school safety and what to do in the event they are faced with an active shooter or a similar situation.
While most are well aware of the recent school shooting tragedies in our public school systems many are unaware of the active shooter that killed five and wounded five more at an Amish school in rural Nickel Mines Pennsylvania in 2006.
The idea to educate the Amish school teachers in our area was spearheaded by Master Trooper Brooks Shirk who patrols Kosciusko and Elkhart Counties. Shirk commented that his original goal was to build a relationship with the Amish community in his patrol area and map the locations of the Amish schools. Shirk said that he quickly realized that the task of visiting all the schools and speaking with each teacher individually was going to be overwhelming. He stated, “I had no idea that there were so many Amish schools in the area when I first started.” His research uncovered more than 100 schools in the Tri-County area of Elkhart, Kosciusko, and LaGrange Counties. Most of the one room schools have around 30 students and are no more than three to four miles apart since the kids that are attending are all getting there by walking, riding a bike, or by horse drawn vehicle, commented Shirk.
Much to his surprise the Amish community and school teachers were very open to having the state police come in and talk about school safety. Shirk organized two presentations. The first took place at one of their schools in Nappanee. Here more than 50 teachers and elders from the Nappanee and Kosciusko area were in attendance for the two hour program and question and answer session. They represented the 22 schools in the area. The second program took place in northern Elkhart County and 62 teachers and administrators were present representing approximately 38 schools from Elkhart and LaGrange Counties.
Shirk says of the experience, I don’t think this program could have turned out any better. I was very excited about the turn out, their response, and the questions they asked. He concluded, “We have taken great steps toward educating the Amish community about prevention and planning in case the unthinkable was to ever happen.”