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The Caroline County Sheriff’s Office placed extra officers at all public and private schools in the county in the wake of the massacre of elementary schoolchildren in Connecticut.
In a news release issued by his office, Sheriff Tony Lippa said officials “want the public to know that this extra police presence is a proactive measure only, meant to reassure children, educators, and parents of their immediate safety.”
“We want to reduce the fears and anxiety that many teachers, parents, and students may be feeling as they return to school. There will be a visible police presence every day and at every school until students break for the holidays.”
A lone gunman shot and killed 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday of last week. He also shot and killed six adults, including the school principal, before taking his own life.
The incident is considered the largest mass killing in the U.S. after the Virginia Tech massacre, in which a gunman shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in 2007.
“In light of recent events, the safety and security of our students and staff are of the utmost importance to us,” Caroline Schools Superintendent Greg Killough said in a statement published on the school division website.
“Therefore, we will be taking extra precautions and looking at our procedures to ensure the safety of all students and staff. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we increase our awareness in each of our schools and work with the sheriff’s department to provide a safe school environment.”
School officials and members of the sheriff’s office conferred following last Friday’s shooting, according to Lippa, and the sheriff’s office command staff and school officials met Sunday to discuss security.
Deputies and the sheriff’s office special emergency response team routinely conduct specialized “active shooter training” at schools, noted Lippa, and extensive security protocols are in place and are regularly reviewed and updated.
Deputies were notified of a mandatory overtime status needed to increase school security without jeopardizing public safety in other areas. Lippa said he will use funds originally budgeted for other projects to cover the overtime.
Lippa sought to remind people to report immediately anything that seems out of the ordinary. Individuals who engage in such shootings often reveal their intentions to family or friends weeks or even months before taking any action, he said.
Anyone who has made threatening remarks, even if it seems to have been in a joking manner, should be reported immediately to school or law enforcement officials, he said.
“This office is prepared to utilize whatever resources are necessary to reassure our children, and those entrusted with their care, of their immediate safety,” said Lippa.