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Salt Lake school janitors to get training in foiling violence

Move will boost building safety, official says

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Custodians may be the best people to clean up schools.

The Salt Lake school district is going to start training head custodians to be the eyes and ears that can prevent school violence.

"They're the ones who really know how things are in the school," said West High's resource officer, detective Fred Ross. Ross and other officers will conduct the training.

Janitors are more likely to overhear student conversations as they clean, Ross said. Janitors clean lockers and help students open jammed lockers, so they could possibly find evidence that would be helpful in preventing an attack. They would be the ones to find a suspicious backpack in a broom closet, Ross said.

"They're in more places than anyone in the school," Ross said.

But aside from uncovering potential disasters, Ross said training could cover other issues such as how custodians control their inventory of chemicals.

The need for this training was highlighted by the episode in Massachusetts last year, when a school custodian found a torn note detailing a planned Columbine-type attack.

Cindi Seidel, assistant superintendent for educational services, said custodians play an important role in keeping the buildings safe, and the training will help them be aware of what they need to look for in the buildings.

Seidel appreciates the support the police department gives the school district. "This close, working relationship is important in always maintaining the safety of our buildings," she said.