Local districts, police keep in constant contact to ensure student safety

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on December 14, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 9:49 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Local districts use a number of resources to keep their students safe.

City, school and law enforcement officials say they constantly prepare staff and students for a tragedy like the mass shooting in Connecticut Friday.

The massacre created a cause for concern for local children, especially for those who work in education.

“It’s impossible to wrap your mind around it. It’s such a heinous act against those that are defenseless,” Security Director Mark Howard of the Spokane School District said.

The district relies on more than 1,000 cameras and 12 officers to prevent any outside threat, and all visitors in this district are required to check in before visiting any school. School officials practice three drills on crises each year, and staff says there may not be another realistic option to increase school security.

“It’s always a balance between what measures we take and what the actual threats are out there,” Howard said.

If a threat emerges, the district can remotely lock down a school from its main office.

The city and the district issued a joint statement Friday afternoon regarding the tragedy, highlighting the relationship between the schools and the police. They say they stay in constant communication.

There’s a similar relationship between districts in Spokane Co. and the sheriff’s office. Deputies and the Valley police also released a statement following the incident in Connecticut.

They say officers are assigned to the Liberty School District, Freeman School District, East Valley School District, West Valley School District, Mead School District and Central Valley School District.
Officials in the Central Valley School District offer programs and resources every day to keep students safe. A standoff earlier this year tested Central Valley’s lockdown procedure, which proved effective. Friday’s events still made them think twice about what more can be done.

“The nature of the tragedy, happening in a school with small children, makes it especially sad,” district spokesperson Melanie Rose said.
 
Rose believes a key part of keeping students safe is to use a single point of entry. Only the main door remains unlocked throughout the day.

Central Valley utilizes four officers in their district alone: two from the sheriff’s office and two hired by the schools.

This school, too, routinely takes part in practice drills.

“Whenever anything like this happens, it gives you pause to take a look at what we’re doing,” Rose said.

She admits some schools are in need of repair and upgrades, which could improve security, but the district wants to reassure parents of the current set up in their schools.

“We have a very safe district, and school safety is our top priority,” Rose said.

The Central Valley staff works with the Spokane Co. Sheriff’s Office on security. They’re trained each year by deputies.

Mayor Condon also issued a statement Friday, along with Spokane police.

“I know I speak for our entire community when I say that we are heartbroken over the tragic events that occurred in Connecticut this morning,” he said. “The City of Spokane and Spokane Public Schools work closely together in many ways to help ensure that our kids are safe at school and within our community. And, we will continue to seek ways to improve their safety.”

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