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Local patrols increased amid Conn. shooting

Posted: December 15, 2012 3:26 p.m.
Updated: December 15, 2012 3:26 p.m.

 The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station stepped up patrols around schools and surrounding areas following the fatal shooting Friday at a Connecticut elementary school.

Meanwhile, local elementary school district superintendents assured parents each school has a plan to respond to emergencies, including the situation of a shooter on campus.

“These types of things are obviously happening way too much; it’s horrific and unthinkable,” said Marc Winger, superintendent of Newhall School District.

To prepare for the unthinkable, the district holds regular emergency drills and practices evacuation procedures, including some that would be done in the case of a shooter, he said.

Every school in California is required to have a site safety plan that covers a variety of circumstances, from natural disasters like earthquakes or fires to situations like intruders, according to officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“As your community protectors, we work every moment of every day to ensure your safety and our preparedness to respond to any emergency,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Dubin in a news release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and anyone affected by this horrific event,” he said, adding that increased patrols were put in place around Santa Clarita Valley schools.

Police in Newtown, Conn., said the gunman, Adam Lanza, killed his mother and then drove to the school where she taught and shot up two classrooms, killing 26 people, including 20 children. They offered no inkling on a motive for the attack.

A custodian at the school ran through the halls, warning of a gunman on the loose, and someone switched on the intercom, alerting people in the building to the attack. Police say those actions may have saved many lives.

School superintendents said every local school prepares for such events as much as possible.

“Everyone is really working together and we want to make sure our children are safe, our staff is safe and our community is safe,” said Joan Lucid, superintendent of Saugus Union School District. “And the (Los Angeles County) Sheriff’s Department is on speed dial when we need to have them.”

Robert Nolet, superintendent of Sulphur Springs School District, said the district has safety plans outlining response procedures for everything from an earthquake to a chemical spill. The district also has safety committees at each of its school sites that meet to discuss how such plans can be improved.

Nolet said the district will consider Friday’s shooting when examining its own response procedures in the future.

“We will want to see more or hear what the details are of this tragic incident and see whether or not any of those details would be something we want to consider as we make our own safety plans,” Nolet said.

Castaic Union School District Superintendent James Gibson said his district has another factor to consider when crafting security protocols: Many district facilities are located in close proximity to the Pitchess Detention Center, which is also in Castaic.

As a result, all school buildings are designed with just one public entrance and exit during school hours, all district employees must wear identification badges, and lockdowns are practiced in case of a prison escape, Gibson said.

“It reminds you, when you have a day like today, why we do that,” Gibson said Friday. “We are responsible for the 600 kids in our care and we take that responsibility very seriously.”



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