Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Ann Arbor schools under lockdown: All Clear

1. February 2006 • Murph
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Rumors abounded earlier this afternoon about lockdowns at a number of Ann Arbor schools. The District’s webpage notes that the “police situation” in the area was controlled, and the situation declared safe at 3:10pm. All is okay.

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Due to a police emergency near Haisley school, many of the surrounding elementary and middle schools in the area were in lock down this afternoon including Haisley, Abbot, Wines, Forsythe, Slauson, and Ann Arbor Open at Mack.

When the emergency situation was under control, at approximately at 3:10 p.m., the police gave the all clear to release students.

Your student may have arrived home late today due to this emergency. The safety of our students is our number one priority. At no time was student safety compromised.

Letters will be sent home with students on Thursday.

Thank you,

  1. (Sometimes you just gotta peek out of retirement to help head off impending panic…)
       —Murph    Feb. 1 '06 - 09:16PM    #
  2. Thanks Murph. There was a comment on ypsidixit, and absolutely nothing (nothing!) on the front page of the Snooze’s online edition.

    I’m communications parent for my son’s kindergarten class, so nominally I’d be responsible for getting the word out (whatever that word might be) to other classroom parents. Time to dust off some preparations.
       —Edward Vielmetti    Feb. 1 '06 - 09:21PM    #
  3. That schools in such a broad geographical area be shut down seems unjustified. Any idea what this was? Ypsi-dixit says it was a crazed gunman running around, but if he was running around near Haisley, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to get that far…
       —Daniel    Feb. 1 '06 - 09:32PM    #
  4. Ed – I’d be perfectly happy to host or link to a HOWTO on setting up a classroom emergency communication plan…
       —Murph    Feb. 1 '06 - 09:45PM    #
  5. Here’s a bit of news (w/names removed) from arborparents:

    My son called me to tell me that school is in lockdown and could I come get him.
    I get there and ask the assistant principal what is going on.

    Apparently there is a gunman on Bruce St. and they don’t want kids walking through that area.
    It was a safety precaution.

    All the parents were lined up in order to get their kid.

    After we had been in line for a while, word came down that they had caught the gunman and were letting students out.

    Wow! This is Ann Arbor??


       —Edward Vielmetti    Feb. 1 '06 - 09:47PM    #
  6. Ed quoted me. Which is fine.

    I wanted to add what a clusterf. it was at school.

    As far as I know, the plan is to keep the kids in lockdown till the situation is clear. Not have the kids call their parents to tell them that there is someone dangerous in the neighborhood and to come get them?!

    Lots of frantic parents today.
       —Rose    Feb. 1 '06 - 10:03PM    #
  7. I suspect a lot of parents give their kids cell phones partially with such emergency situations in mind – but getting a phone call from your kid saying, “The school’s in lockdown, come get me,” and doing so suggests that the school has not done a very good job of explaining what lockdown means. (Presumably, that your kids can’t leave and it may be dangerous for you to approach the school.)

    And the fact that none of the “real” media outlets seems to have picked this up, and I expect the schools didn’t put any info on their webpage before the “all clear” message, means that communication procedures need to be better all around.

    Emergency planning is an under-studied field.
       —Murph    Feb. 1 '06 - 10:24PM    #
  8. Seems like this might have been a good thing to put on Code Red. I can see where you wouldn’t want to cause a panic, but if you have several schools in lockdown and a gunman running through a neighborhood, it might be good to broadcast a few more details.

    This has been a constant frustration that there is no place to actually get current information on emergency situations around town. The most recent one we tried to find out about was a tanker overturned on US-23 that closed the highway near Arborland for 12 hours with an enormous number of emergency personnel involved, but only merited a one-paragraph note in the paper two days later. There was no report on the M-DOT web site, any of the Detroit News channels, local NPR, the City website, or Mlive. Large fires, gunmen running loose, emergency road closures, floods, hazardous waste spills all seem like possible Code Red fodder to me.
       —Juliew    Feb. 1 '06 - 10:49PM    #
  9. The district takes its lead from the police department. They requested the lock down in the area schools. We do not make that decision on our own. There was a clear concern that as kids were released there was danger in them walking near the site of the situation.

    We held our buses at the two middle schools waiting for an all clear. Middle school at Forsythe and Slauson got out at 3:10, 20 minutes past the normal release time. The elementary schools involved were released at their normal time although with delay at the middle schools some of the buses were running a bit late.

    Each school was informed to activate their parent fan out system and were in the middle of doing this when the all clear came.

    The police advised us that if parents arrived to the schools we could release the students to them and to allow parents to enter. The closest school, Haisley, was of course, harder to reach but some parents were able to do so.

    While we may be criticized for be overly cautious, the safety of our students come first and we cannot afford to be anything but cautious.

    Letters will go home with all students from these schools tomorrow.

    How do I know all this? I will come clean and admit to holding the job of communications director for the district.
       —LNM    Feb. 2 '06 - 12:28AM    #
  10. Thanks Liz, that’s useful information.

    I found a “what to do in case of war” press release from the AAPS here:

    which talks about news going out on multiple radio stations, television, etc. Now I know that was not this case, but I have talked to other parents who didn’t get called through the fan-out system, and as a communications parent myself it would be a stretch to quickly contact 17 other sets of parents in time to give them all adequate instructions about what to do in case of an emergency.
       —Edward Vielmetti    Feb. 2 '06 - 01:41AM    #
  11. Until I see a mug shot and a name of the gunman they supposedly arrested, I don’t believe a word of this. This was a test to see how well the police could lock down a school, and how the students would respond to it. Which would also explain why the local papers didn’t get the story—the police don’t want people asking questions. (And another reason why newspapers are becoming irrelevant as blogs get the stories that they don’t).

    Police across the world have been participating in Homeland Security exercises like this. There was an extraordinary scare about a year and a half ago when Crisler Arena was evacuated for an “anthrax attack” that turned to be be a hoax. The U-M med school was in on this, “inoculating” thousands of people in what turned out just to be a readiness test. This was a cover story for the U-M Alum magazine a while back.

    Show me the gunman and I may be convinced.
       —Adam de Angeli    Feb. 4 '06 - 07:12AM    #
  12. Oops, I meant “country,” not “world.”
    Police across the country have been participating in such exercises.

    Also, the drill was also to see how the parents would put up with being “lined up” to get their kids.
       —Adam de Angeli    Feb. 5 '06 - 12:05AM    #
  13. Here’s the News’ article from the next day
       —Murph.    Feb. 5 '06 - 01:30AM    #
  14. Proving I was right.

    Official story makes no sense.

    Man threatens to kill himself, and doesn’t leave his home. So police shut down every school in a mile and a half radius?

    Facing no charges?

    Come on.
       —Adam de Angeli    Feb. 5 '06 - 12:07PM    #
  15. we’re waiting for the mossad angle, adam.
       —peter honeyman    Feb. 5 '06 - 07:16PM    #