Schools in area take precautionary measures after shootings

by ALISON STEWART | REPORTER Published:

Aurora schools Superintendent Russ Bennett said the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. was "heart wrenching" as area leaders reacted to the recent Dec. 14 tragedy.

Streetsboro Mayor Glenn Broska said he is "still trying to absorb the absolutely senseless tragedy that has occurred in Newtown."

"I will convene a meeting as soon as possible with our [Streetsboro] police department and the leadership at the schools to further enhance the safety of our kids," Broska wrote on a Facebook post. "I have already formulated thoughts and ideas, and will share them at the meeting."

Representatives from the Streetsboro Police Department met with school principals and Superintendent Dr. Tim Calfee on Dec. 17, according to Streetsboro Police Chief Roy Mosley III.

"We are going to be more visible this week to be a reassurance to parents so they know that we're out there," said Mosley during the final week of school before the winter break. The schools also will implement the ALICE program.

In Aurora, the schools already have the ALICE program in place.

According to Bennett, the schools have resource officer Michelle Ice, who has trained the staff in ALICE and will train students as well.

The training program known as ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate) has been taught throughout the country, officials said. The training teaches people how to prepare and possibly fight back against an armed gunman.

Some of the training techniques include learning how to barricade a door, how to escape by breaking a window and, if a person can't get away, how to fight back if there is no other option.

"All of the doors are locked during the school day," said Calfee. "We have a buzzer system along with a camera system so we know who is at the door."

According to Calfee, there is a police officer assigned to the district all day, every day.

"IN EVERY office, there is a 'panic button' that connects immediately to the police station," Calfee said.

There are also telephones in every classroom that are equipped to dial 911 immediately, he added.

"It is certainly heart wrenching to hear what happened in Connecticut," Bennett said.

"We have surveillance cameras in our schools and on our buses. We also have a buzzing system to get into the buildings. The doors remained locked all day.

"Every month, our secretaries play out a scenario with security so they are prepared for dangerous situations," Bennett added.

Bennett said Aurora school personnel were scheduled to meet Dec. 21 with Chardon High School officials "to go over what they [Chardon] did and what they learned" following a shooting incident in that district earlier this year.

The meeting was scheduled before the shootings in Connecticut occurred, according to Bennett.

Aurora Police Chief Seth Riewaldt said police officers will be sent to attend events that officers normally do not attend.

"We normally attend sporting events, but we also will attend all events that go on in the evening, such as concerts, since those events are open to the public," Riewaldt said. "People should expect to see officers in and around schools more than in the past."

Twinsburg police also increased their presence at schools last week.

"We understand that everybody's at a heightened sense of anxiety right now," said Twinsburg Police Chief Chris Noga.

Email: astewart@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9419 ext. 4163

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