Talon News - Good Local News

By Kirk Carpenter


Safety Updates and Training


August 10, 2018

Safety Updates and Training

by Kirk Carpenter, Special to TALON

As the school year starts and students return to school, they will see some changes at Lydia Rippey and Park. Aztec High School will also have some changes as well in the future.

Park Avenue Elementary will have the most visible changes with some rod iron fencing that will now funnel all visitors to the front office. Though there were many faculty and visitor parking spots that were eliminated in front of the school, this additional fencing will add to the overall safety of our students and staff. On the inside of the school, Park will also have a vestibule where visitors and parents will continue to sign in, but will now have to be buzzed into the rest of the school.

Lydia Rippey also has a new interior vestibule. Visitors and parents will continue to sign into the office but will also have to be buzzed into the school after securing clearance from the office. Though they have always had to get clearance the new wall and set doors now forces all the foot traffic that comes into the school to move through the office so that they can get buzzed into the rest of the school.

Aztec High School will see some upgrades as well. There will be some additional fencing added in parts of the campus, along with some key coded gates and other manual gates added as well. Our planning for this has been very purposeful and driven by our district wide security assessment. We have also applied for a grant that the Legislature made available for school safety. This grant entails removing the three bridges that currently sit in front of the school and replacing them with one bridge along with a security building. It will be at this point visitors will report to be checked in so they can come onto campus. We are still awaiting word on this grant which is over $900,000. The awards for this grant will not be given until October, so if we are fortunate enough to receive it, this work will not be done until later in the school year. We are continuing our conversation with the City of Aztec on closing Zia Street during school hours where it dissects our campus, but it is not looking very promising. We want to put in two gates that would be closed during the school day. Jemez Street would be manned at all times during the day for both foot and vehicular traffic. This would allow us to control and restrict all traffic coming onto campus from west Zia Street. In a recent work session with the Commissioners, Mayor and other city officials, we presented our plan and solutions to what we felt might be some obstacles. We were turned down by the City for an additional School Resource Officer due to their budget and to completely close Zia Street because of egress issues for the residents to the west of the high school. As we await the City’s decision we will continue with our plans to make security improvements at Aztec High School.

It is my belief that we need to continue to improve safety in schools across our state, not just in Aztec, and the best way to do that is for us to get more trained retired officers that want to do the work on our campuses. We are working with legislators to draft legislation for the session to make legislative changes. We are also working with a third party and are very close in creating an avenue for retired officers to return to work without losing their cost of living adjustment. This is a huge factor for so many retired officers and the reason they are not returning to work in New Mexico.

Finally we held district wide training on August 8, 2018 on school safety. The training was a collaborative effort between law enforcement from Aztec, Farmington, Bloomfield PD, and San Juan County Sheriff’s office. These trainings will continue to be done in all the districts in our county. The uniformity of the trainings is important because it creates consistency in our approaches on how to handle situations which is important for law enforcement and emergency personnel when they report to emergencies. This is a result of the county wide task force that continues to look for ways to improve safety for all the students and stay in San Juan County.


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