School Patrols Up After CT Shooting, Graffiti Threat
A frightening message and Connecticut shootings put parents on edge.
Local police and school officials are taking steps to respond to two incidents Friday that highlight the importance of security at schools.
Police are continuing to investigate graffiti on a shed at Auten Road Intermediate School discovered Friday that seemed to threaten students, reportedly stating, "We are watching you, kiddies."
Just as police responded to the graffiti incident, news spread of a young man who entered a Connecticut elementary school and killed 20 students and six adults.
Further details about the graffiti are not available as police continue the investigation, but police are responding to these incidents with added presence around schools.
"We take the security of our schools very seriously," Hillsborough Police Lt. Fran Mozgai said. "In light of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., we have instructed our officers to increase their presence at the school buildings."
Hillsborough schools already employ the same security systems employed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, with doors locked when classes start, and video and audio links for unlocking the doors. The locks and required lock-down drills in schools were initiated after the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.
The shooter in the Newtown incident gained access by shooting out a window. School officials said they will review school security to see what, if any, additional steps may be taken. Such reviews are regularly performed regardless, Superintendent of Schools Jorden Schiff said.
"Each of our schools has a safety plan in place," he said Monday. "Each school’s plan includes both general safety procedures as well as plans specific to the building layout and school environment. These plans are reviewed periodically and crisis drills are conducted every month."
For school officials, the challenges go beyond security to including how to appropriately deal with students' questions, fears and anxieties caused by such incidents.
Dr. Schiff issued a statement Monday noting that the district knows many parents have sought to shield their children from much of the news coverage.
"We also appreciate the fact that some families have also protected their children from the coverage of this event," Dr. Schiff said. "Beginning Monday morning, the district’s Crisis Management Team will be on hand to provide our staff with the support they may need to help those students with questions and concerns processing the unthinkable event that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "
He said the district will handle any such discussions "delicately," and in the case of younger students, privately and outside of classrooms "so as to respect each family's decision."
"We do want to reassure all of our students that schools are a safe place," Dr. Schiff said.
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