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Article posted: 3/2/2013 8:00 AM

Gurnee police offer peek at school safety video

Woodland Middle School staged lockdown Feb. 15

By Bob Susnjara

Gurnee police are offering a glimpse of a safety training video featuring local officers, students and teachers reacting to a lockdown at the village's Woodland Middle School.

Police and Woodland Elementary District 50 collaborated in the production at the school two weeks ago. It's geared for school employees who didn't receive formal training about lockdown procedures because they were hired in the middle of an academic year.

Crime prevention technician Tom Agos said the video, when finished this month, will be offered for free to schools and law-enforcement agencies across the country. Police released a 1-minute, 15-second trailer Thursday to generate interest.

About 60 volunteers participated in the production, including Gurnee officers, Lake County sheriff's deputies, District 50 children, teachers, and students from Columbia College in Chicago. Columbia College's crew received extra credit for handling cinematography, lighting and technical support.

Columbia's equipment and crew were conservatively worth $75,000, Agos said. The final product should run about 13 minutes after more graphics are included to reinforce safety points, he added.

"The (Columbia) students are aggressively working on it," Agos said Friday.

District officials and police began discussions about safety and security measures in place after the December tragedy in Newtown, Conn. They agreed the video will fill a gap until the new employees receive the annual, in-person lockdown training at the start of the next school season.

Gurnee police already have received 46 inquires about the video from in and out of state. The list includes Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Crystal Lake Elementary District 47, San Diego Community College District and the Addison Police Department.

Addison public information officer Chris Weinbrenner said he contacted Agos after becoming aware of the video. He said he plans to screen the trailer and full version to see if it can help DuPage High School District 88 and Addison Elementary District 4.

"If it's something that can be beneficial, absolutely I'll present it to the school resource officer," Weinbrenner said.

One of the video's scenes, directed by Columbia television instructor Matt Till, occurred in a second-floor middle school classroom where high-grade lighting, cameras and microphones were used. Woodland teacher Ellen Crahan checked the hallway and called seventh-grade students Riley Doyle and Morgan Niesen to the room for a "hard lockdown," which means danger lurked inside the building. Crahan directed three rows of students to a classroom closet. Agos said the children were impressive by taking their roles seriously.

"There were kids there until 10 o'clock at night working with the crew," Agos said.

Chicago-based television and voice-over actor Chris Agos, the police crime prevention technician's brother, helped to assemble the volunteer crew.

Tom Agos said the video will be available to police agencies and schools after requests are verified. He said access to the video will be through a special Gurnee police email account so it may be downloaded and copied to a DVD.

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