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Deputy Roelofs Explains Threat Definitions & Procedures

School resource officer Deputy Jason Roelofs and a student at Kingsley High School.

As the new school year begins, Grand Traverse County’s emergency management team would like to educate parents and community members about the verbiage used when there is a threat in or around the school.

There are two kinds of actions deployed when there is a public or school safety threat: lockdown and secure mode. You may see these terms used by dispatchers and media outlets when reporting on threat situations.

"We want to get on the same page about these definitions so we're all using the same terms. Across the country, emergency managers and dispatchers are using the same terminology to alleviate confusion and panic," said School Resource Officer Deputy Jason Roelofs.


"A lockdown is an immediate threat, whether it's immediately outside or something's happening inside. This is typically a worst-case scenario type of situation," said Deputy Roelofs.

  • Once law enforcement agencies arrive and mitigate the threat, the entry points to the school will be blocked off

  • Information will be disseminated as quickly as possible

  • Parents are advised not to rush to the school as this creates an additional hazard for law enforcement

  • In the event of an emergency threat, students may be taken to previously designated emergency shelter zones

Secure Mode

"Secure mode means the threat is not at the school and may not involve the school, it could be as common as someone experiencing a domestic disturbance down the street. Secure modes can be something that happens frequently as they have nothing to do with the school."

  • The threat is not in or around the building, but potentially in the same community

  • Secure mode is a precautionary measure deployed law enforcement has addressed the outside incident

  • Parents should not necessarily expect an explanation or notification of these events

  • Parents are discouraged from calling the school or arriving to campus

If you have any questions, please reach out to School Resource Office Deputy Jason Roelofs at or by calling 231-263-5261 ext. 1106.

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