This is just an example of the partnership Jeffco Schools has with law enforcement and so many others who keep our children safe each day. Though Martensen was lost as a neighborhood school, this is truly an incredible use of the facility. Kudos to Mr. McDonald and his staff for having the foresight to begin such an important project!
Following is the story from Jeffco Public Schools!
Martensen’s New Mission
At first glance, it looks like Facility Manager Adrian Tolentino is going through the usual routine of cleaning and prepping a school for another hard day of use. There’s trash to pick up, an HVAC system to check, and countless other tasks to finish. However, this is no ordinary school.
Martensen Elementary, which first opened in 1954, hasn’t welcomed Jeffco students since 2011. Instead, the learning going on here now, is of a very different kind. Tolentino watches as hand to hand combat drills are carried out in the Martensen gym. You see, Martensen is now a training facility, for those who serve and protect.
“A lot of law enforcement agencies come through and do a lot of simulations, first responder training. You name it, they do it,” explained Tolentino. “I’m very honored, to be honest with you, just to be able to get this close with different agencies. To see how they actually react under stress, to see what they actually do behind closed doors, I mean, it is an eye-opening experience.”
The facility offers law enforcement agencies a chance to get training in a real school environment, without disrupting students and staff.
“What a great opportunity…that recognizes the importance of law enforcement training. And so we quietly just took over the school. And it really became something pretty special,” said Executive Director of Security & Emergency Management, John McDonald.
Police and fire departments from all over train at Martensen, and even the Navy Seals have been there.
“I think that first year we had about sixty-five days that were used by law enforcement. Right now, this year, we’re up to fourteen agencies, multiple school district security departments, ATF has been in here, SWAT teams come in, fire departments come and train on rescue task force and how they work together with law enforcement in an active shooter environment,” said McDonald.
Martensen has so many bookings for training, it gets used an average of 190 days-a-year. Some of the time, it hosts refresher courses for Jeffco campus supervisors in crisis prevention techniques.
“It’s really all about how to intervene with a student that’s upset or out of control, how to deescalate, verbally, a student, so you never get to the point where you have to put hands on someone,” explained McDonald. “That’s really about that good verbal de-escalation strategy that limits the impact of everyone around and focuses that student into a better place so we can get them help. And it’s a great intervention strategy.”
Other days, the focus is on emergency medical first response, including how to locate and treat badly injured victims in a dark environment. Specially-designed goggles sub for blindfolds to help keep things real.
“The purpose of the blindfolds is to simulate conditions like at night, under fire, heavy smoke, that type of simulation. So you have to feel around to find the person, to find their injuries, and then treat the injuries,” explained Jeffco Sheriff Investigator Tom Acierno.
“It gives us that extra edge in order to make things become automatic in what we deal with and how we approach a situation rather than having to think back to ‘okay, we go through this step, then we go through that step.’ It’s just like any other training, whether it be arrest control or firearms or driving,” added Jeffco Sheriff Patrol Sgt. Steve Stalter.
For McDonald, Martensen’s new mission is also a way to say thank you to Jeffco’s many law enforcement partners.
“They give us so much on an annually basis: thirty five police officers assigned to the schools, somewhere around five million dollars a year in budget costs to law enforcement agencies,” explained McDonald. “And eight agencies provide us law enforcement personnel to support our schools, and they don’t ask anything in return. And my thought with this is this is a way to give back. “
The Martensen Mission is evolving, including a renovation that will allow for the installation of a donated police simulator to help guide trainees on good decision-making under stress.
“So this is really becoming something more than I even thought it could be. And I think the sky’s the limit,” said McDonald.
“It’s a good inspiration just to know that these agencies are coming through and they are practicing techniques to keep everybody safe in our community, in our environments, in the world,” added Tolentino.
See the JPS-TV version of this story here.