LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As promised through its new safety plan approved in early 2022, the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) district says it's successfully put a safety administrator in every middle and high school to start the school year.
Crosby Middle School's Latanya Collins is one of 66 people serving in this new role inside school walls and hand-in-hand with students to protect them from the worst possible scenarios.
"I'm not afraid to step up and lead the charge," said Collins, who previously was the facility's mental health practitioner for three years. "I can honestly say that if we had an active shooter, I can confidently say that our building would be able to exit and evacuate quickly."
On Wednesday, we got our first look at what the new job entails -- starting with a routine of greeting students and making sure doors are locked inside and out.
Matt Anderson, JCPS' executive administrator of school culture and climate, explained how the role is different from what the school district already had. He said threat management "is a big part of their job."
"What might be considered a real threat and what is legitimate," Anderson said. "And then, what might be some appropriate responses as to how that might be addressed."
Anderson said safety administrators like Collins have spent 10-plus hours completing extra Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) training.
One of Collins' biggest responsibilities is making sure everyone in the building knows A.L.I.C.E., JCPS' version of active shooter response. It stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.
"And the staff knows if they can get their students out the back, [they can] head toward our safe place. If they can get their students out the front, they can head toward our safe place," Collins said.
Another element is giving students a clear, visible person they can approach with safety concerns. And in Collins case, it's a familiar and trusted face.
"My head is always on a swivel. They can come and talk to me," she said.
School leaders say safety administrators are also in constant talks with armed School Safety Officers (SSOs) patrolling outside, in cases of emergencies.
SSOs, also a part of JCPS' new safety plan, patrol outside three to seven schools in a geographical area.
The plan is to eventually have 30 of them. As of Wednesday afternoon, JCPS said it has 11 SSOs working, 13 either in training or working toward certification, and more than six recommended for hire.
Right now, we're told the officer assigned to Eastern High School is the closest to Crosby Middle.
Collins said parents can put their faith in her dedication if an imminent danger ever approached the Douglass Hills campus.
Crosby Middle School Principal Kara Ammerman has worked with Collins for the last three years.
"She has a great skill set of deescalating situations," Ammerman said. "Being able to get to the root of situations."
If staffing allows, JCPS says the district would consider eventually bringing safety administrators to every single elementary school in the district, as well.