SIDNEY — The pop of guns being fired were heard Monday afternoon as “Inside Edition” filmed an upcoming segment for the show at Sidney High School.
The second floor of the school was turned into an active shooter scenario as “Inside Edition” Producer Christopher Dukas and his crew, Paul Cronley, of Dayton, and Curt Britton, of Springfield, both with Merlin Productions, filmed the segment about the security measures Sidney City Schools has taken to keep its students safe.
“We keep our eyes and ears to the ground,” said Dukas when asked how the filming at the school came about. “This is an important issue. The president has mentioned it.”
Dukas, who has been with “Inside Edition” for 25 years, said he has covered many of the school shootings which have occurred in the United States. He was at various school shootings, such as Columbine and Parkland. There he had to interview parents and families about the shootings.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Dukas. “Parents don’t send their students to school to get shot.”
With his visit to Sidney, he’s examining the proactive active stance the district is taking should an active shooter situation ever occur at one of the district’s buildings.
“A lot of moms and parents watch the show,” said Dukas. “Kids are an important issue for all of us. Some people will support the segment. Likewise, some people will not. We’re not out to convince people but we’re just reporting on what the school is doing.”
Dukas and his crew arrived at the school around 11:30 a.m. Monday. They walked the halls and watched the hallway monitor in the main office. Dukas plotted and planned what was going to happen after school dismissed for the day.
“I’mging to be like a fly on the wall during the “active shooter” scenario,” said Dukas.
Dukas talked with SHS Resource Officer Deputy John Pence, SHS Principal Brian Powderly and two members of the response team. Neither person will be identified in this article nor on the show to protect them should an active shooter situation every occur.
“I want to know what kind of training they’ve had,” said Dukas. “Is the educator (who’s on the team) ready to shoot to kill?
“I used to be a lifeguard, so I know what happens if a person is drowning,” he said. “People will watch what’s happening and they didn’t know what to do because they had panicked.
“I’ve been in war zones and I’ve been shot at,” he said.
As school dismissed for the day, Dukas watched as students left the building. He was ready to start the interview process.
When Dukas asked the members of the responders team why they had volunteered to be on the team.
“I feel it’s part of our duty,” said one responder.
“This (school shooting) is a horrific thing,” said the second responder. “We feel the team themselves is the biggest deterrent” to an active shooter situation.
The identities of the team will be protected, said Dukas. Their faces will be blurred and voices changed in the segment.
“The drills are very helpful,” they told Dukas. “No one wants to take a life, but if we had to choose between that and our kids” they would shoot to kill an armed intruder at the school.
Both said they would respond as they were trained and be at the location where the shooter is within seconds.
“We chose to be anonymous for the kids safety,” the responders said. “We can’t let our rally points be know.”
When asked how many responders were on the team, they said, “between 1 and 100.”
Pence said he had all the confidence in he world in the response team. He said he’d stand next to them to stop a threat to the students and school.
“When it comes to schools and the kids, there is no negotiating,” said Pence. “We’re going to stop the threat.”
Both responders said they would put their lives on the line to protect their students.
“With of without weapons, we’re trained to get the kids to safety,” they said.
Superintendent Bob Humble watched the interview session with the responders and Pence.
“I hope the story shows how schools that have this sort of security in place that parents understand it’s not a prison, it’s not the wild wild west with teachers strutting around with a gun on their hips and that students hardly know the difference except that they feel much safer,” said Humble. “I thought that they were very professional and hope that in the editing process we get a positive or at least neutral slant.”
He said he’s surprised the district is still receiving a lot of attention for their armed response team since it’s been in existence for six years.
“I am still surprised that we are still getting media attention for this but since the rest of the nation is still wrestling with what to do to protect students and the political climate I guess I shouldn’t be,” said Humble.
Dukas has watched the evolving crisis at schools involving violence. He said when he was in school, there were no metal detectors for students to go through. A fight outside the school solved whatever problems there might have been between two students.
“Now, the game isn’t over,” he said. “In my day, you would take a beating and it was done. Today, they came back to school with a gun.
“This is a serious business,” he said. “There are a lot of weapons available. In some states, you don’t need a permit to buy a rifle. Most school shootings don’t involve a handgun. They use rifles and automatic guns, which jam a lot.”
Dukas returned to New York Tuesday where he will complete the segment on Sidney. The air date of the segment wasn’t available at press time.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.