Highland Put On Secure Alert After Weapons Found On Students; Students Detained

Rowan MacIntyre, News Editor

Highland High School went on secure alert for nearly all of second period on Monday, Sep. 26 after weapons were found in the possession of two students on campus.

Two students were detained by law enforcement and removed from the campus, after which school returned to normal. But not until a search was conducted to ensure no further threats existed.

Students got their first taste for a new safety protocol system during the second period when the building was put on hold. Hold, the first stage of Salt Lake City School District standard response protocol for potentially dangerous situations, entails students clearing the halls and teachers locking their doors. Classes, however, carry on as normal.

Shortly after the administration put the building on hold, principal Jeremy Chatterton altered the student and faculty that the security level had been moved to secure alert. Similar to hold, secure alert requires that students and teachers stay inside classrooms with their doors locked. While classes were to continue as usual, the outside doors of the building were also locked.

On top of the standard response protocol, the SLCSD utilized a system called DIR-S (pronounced like duress), which is to be used in emergency situations. DIR-S, when activated, sets off an alarm over the PA system of the building.

“Someone at district leadership was the one who started the DIR-S, and as soon as you start that DIR-S it’s what sets off that alarm,” Chatterton said. “So we called them and asked them, ‘We have this under control, and we don’t need people scared that we have this blaring alarm going off through everyone’s computers and everyone’s phones, can we please turn this off,’ and at that point was when they turned it off .”  

The situation began when a student was pulled out of class to be interviewed about an unrelated incident on the bus the week prior. A customary search was conducted of the student’s bag, which revealed a gun in the student’s possession. The building was placed on hold while the Highland School resource officer was called in. 

While the school was on hold while the administration looked for a second student who was known to associate with the first. 

“Upon finding that other student, and bringing him up to the office, we asked him if he had anything in his bag and he said he also had a gun in his bag,” Chatterton said. 

After finding the second gun, the second student was detained along with the first, and the gun was confiscated by the Salt Lake police department. 

The building was then put on secure alert after both students had been detained. According to Chatterton, the secure alert lasted longer than originally intended because a third student possibly involved in the situation had not been located.

“We were trying to get information because we know there is a third student that these students are often with,” Chatterton said. “We were trying to locate and see if there was a third student on campus. After our investigation, we determined […] that there was no concern, the two students were not with anyone else today.” 

When it was determined that there was no concern over any other weapons or threats on campus, the Salt Lake police department and Highland administration lifted the secure alert. 

Chatterton stated that the safety response protocol was properly followed by Highland staff and responding officers, and students and faculty in the building were safe at all times.