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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

education

Schools, police offer safety precautions

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Two Fairview Elementary School students have reported two similar attempted abductions in the past two months.

The students, a boy and a girl, both 11 years old, reported that a man in his 50s or 60s, balding, with a beard, pulled up to them in a van and asked them if they wanted some candy. It was an attempt to get them into his vehicle.

The boy said the man was driving a white van during the incident two months ago. The girl said he was driving a green minivan with silver hubcaps during the Aug. 26 incident. The students reported the incidents to their school’s social worker Aug. 27.

Bloomington Police Department Lt. Steve Kellams said the cliched scenario, with the candy and the van, isn’t one which happens frequently in the real world.

“Anecdotally, this doesn’t happen very often,” Kellams said. “It is serious when it does happen, but that’s not often.”

Beverly Smith, director of school and community services for the Monroe County Community School Corporation, also said this incident is rare for the school system.

“In my time here, I haven’t seen a lot of incidents like this,” Smith said.

However, in this real scenario, Smith said the students did the right thing by contacting their school’s social worker and telling her what happened.

“The students reported what they saw, and then we went to the Bloomington Police Department,” she said.

Smith said in such situations, MCCSC is committed to keeping students secure.

“We are hypersensitive to safety,” she said. “We are very vigilant.”

Kellams said school procedures are focused on maximizing student safety.

“Schools do a pretty good job in these situations,” he said. “They lock down their doors, they follow their lockdown routines and there are various shelters in place. They monitor bus drivers and have teachers watching outside. They also set up bus routes so that there are very few drop-off locations, to increase safety.”

However, Kellams said, there are holes in every security plan.

“Our biggest concern is kids walking, the times before and after school,” he said.

In response, Kellams said the BPD has increased its presence around the school.

“We’re covering these times with extra patrols around the area,” he said.

The BPD is actively pursuing this case, particularly by pulling video footage from nearby Crestmont Apartments.

“We’re pulling cameras,” Kellams said. “We’re working with the Sex Offender Registry, contacting parole. We’re taking steps.”

Smith said the combination of security and instruction is vital to MCCSC.

“We reach out to local law enforcement and follow security protocol so that we can keep kids’ attention on what they should be focused on, which is school,” Smith said.

As for the students involved in the incidents, Smith said they are doing okay.

“To my knowledge everyone is well,” she said.

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