Sheriff’s office responds to Two Rivers complaint
March 5, 2009
By Laura Geggel
A parent of a Two Rivers School student complained that a recent lockdown at the school was inappropriately handled at the public comment period of the Feb. 12 Snoqualmie School Board meeting.
The parent, Wendy Shafford, said Two Rivers students “were treated like criminals” during the Jan. 28 lockdown.
The lockdown occurred after an individual reported seeing a person bring what appeared to be a gun onto the Two Rivers Campus, located in downtown North Bend. The King County Sheriff’s department responded and determined the object in question was part of a toy water gun, which had been left on the ground outside the school. Police did not press charges.
The incident triggered a lockdown both at Two Rivers and North Bend Elementary, which is a block down from Two Rivers. Most of the students at both schools had already left for the day, but about 20 students remained at North Bend Elementary and about 30 were at Two Rivers during the lockdown.
Shafford said a sergeant defined a lockdown as gathering students into a safe room, having them get down on the floor or under desks, away from windows and possibly drawing shades or blinds.
“This is not what occurred at Two Rivers School,” Shafford said.
She had her son write an account of what happened the evening after the lockdown.
“King County officers entered the school with weapons drawn. They stood my son and about 29 other students up against a wall and frisked them like common criminals,” Shafford said. “Faculty members were patted down and male officers frisked girls.”
The students followed the authorities’ directions and the situation was soon resolved, but Shafford said it put students in an intimidating situation.
“I do not want my child to be intimidated or bullied by local authorities,” she said. “Yes, I am mad. It is obvious that better security measures and procedures need to be developed to prevent another event such as this from happening again.”
Sergeant Jim Lang with the King County Sheriff’s Department said the officer’s actions were necessary.
“After Columbine, these protocols are for the safety of the students and the faculty,” Lang said. “Sometimes people are not going to be happy with the way things are handled. In a situation where there may be weapons or an alleged weapon found, it’s appropriate for an officer to use the standards that are in place for a situation like that.”
“You want to err on the side of safety,” he added.
Snoqualmie Valley Superintendent Joel Aune debriefed with the Sheriff’s Department both after the lockdown and Shafford’s complaint. Shafford is currently researching ways the situation could have been better handled.
“There has to be a better way to keep all children safe without breaching their trust and disrespecting them in the process,” Shafford said.
Reach reporter Laura Geggel at 392-6434 .221 or email@example.com.