FARMINGTON — Area schools have been working for years on procedures should a shooting take place at one of their campuses

The Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington school districts all have plans for shootings and other emergencies.

"Schools are not longer sacred places, you can't take them for granted, they are not off limits " Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said.

Carpenter said the Aztec school district has been holding table-top exercises for several years, gathering members from law enforcement, emergency services, city employees and other schools districts, to walk through a scenario.

"If something happens and we have to relocate students, it takes a multitude of people to handle that," Carpenter said. "You're going to have a lot of people respond, they need to know what their roles are."

When Aztec and other schools hold table-top exercises, they take a minimum of two-and-a half hours to complete.

"The first thing is trying to prevent any sort of tragedy," Carpenter said. "If it does happen, we are trying everything to preserve the safety and lives of our students and staff."

Carpenter cited the response to the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2011 as an example in which schools have learned how to improve their policies.

"That's what we learned from 9/11, we had a lot of people responding and no one in charge," Carpenter said. "They were not on the same wavelength, that's when we got into the incident command centers."

Also known as "go bags," they contain school rosters for staff and students with photos and maps of the school and phone numbers to provide information for law enforcement and emergency services.

As Assistant Superintendent of Campus Programs for Farmington Municipal Schools, Frank Stimac said his district has done as many drills as any other in the name of safety.

"We practice lock down drills, we've done evacuations," Stimac said. "We've done a little bit of everything, we've done active shooters a couple of times.

We've also had a domestic violence (drill) near the school and an abduction off the playground."

Some of the drills recently have included a combination of schools, with the most recent taking place at Heights Middle School and Mesa Verde Elementary.

Stimac said school officials can only share minimal information with the public due to a policy change about six years ago. But he was able to share some of the steps Farmington schools have made in protecting students.

"We have security cameras at all the schools and approximately 500 handheld radios with teachers and administrators," Stimac said.

The radios allow administrators to speak to police dispatch and broadcast on an emergency channel to all school principals and law enforcement.

Policies in place for the Bloomfield School District also include directions for a gas leak and a crashed airplane along with other state-mandated drills.

"Once a month, we'll practice lock down drills in event of an active shooter," Bloomfield Superintendent Joe Rasor said. "So that's its not foreign to (students) if we have to do it."

Rasor said the school district is in constant contact with area law enforcement about how to improve safety policies.

"We are looking at increasing our communication capacity and we've been working with the PD to get radios that operate on the strongest frequency," Rasor said. "We do have some areas we want to strengthen."