HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Keeping students, faculty and staff safe after school hours is the focus for the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety & Security this week.
Over 60 interscholastic athletic officials from across the country are meeting at The University of Southern Mississippi to share ideas and explore new methods for safety and security during NCS4's fourth annual summit.
"Each year, we bring the top-thought leaders in the country to look at all the current issues and landscape that's facing the high schools when it comes to safety and security," said Dr. Marciani, Director for the NCS4.
Dr. Marciani said for the first time, the summit will include a session on mass casualties, something he said is important following the Las Vegas Shooting earlier this year.
"One of the biggest concerns facing the country if something did happen at a high school and it's massive, how do we coordinate the efforts with emergency management and the hospitals,' said Marciani. "I really want them to dig into that whole process so we can have solid best practices in case something would happen at our high schools in the country."
Since 1990, there have been 183 school shootings, resulting in 173 deaths and more than 300 injuries. Officials from the Pine Belt, including Petal School Police and the Lamar County School District, are sitting in on panel discussions, as well as representatives from as far as Tennessee and Michigan.
"If you look at the news and things that are going on now, unfortunately there is not one place in the United States that cannot be touched by that," said Brett Coulter, Assistant Principal and Events Director for Maryville City Schools in Tennessee.
"When you're putting together on a high school level, sometimes we have anywhere from ten to twelve-thousand people in our stadium," Coulter said. "Unfortunately, that can be a prime target for people with those mass casualties."
The goal of the summit is to enhance current best practices by addressing major safety and security issues through input from superintendents, principals, athletic administrators, law enforcement, school resource officers and more. Larry Johnson, the Executive Director of Public Safety for Grand Rapids, Michigan, said it's helpful to hear how other parts of the country are handling situations.
"Weapons are always a concern for us, although we have not had a lot of weapons in our venues, these programs and programs such as this help us prepare our staff to learn how to recognize moment of individuals and keeping weapons out of our venue," Johnson said.
Panels includes stadium design, improving weather forecasting and decision-making and managing multiple events.