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Police ramp up security at SoCal schools

December 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., security has been ramped up at local schools. Police say they want to address any concern that might come up.

There are about 1,100 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which includes tens of thousands of students. As soon as the Connecticut shooting was reported, both the school police and the Los Angeles Police Department stepped up their patrols around all schools. The schools have their own police force augmented by LAPD.

"We immediately directed all of our officers working in the field to contact the school administrator or principal in each of the schools throughout the Los Angeles area, including the private schools, to make sure everything was OK in that school and to ensure them that the Los Angeles Police Department was going to be out there providing extra patrol, to ensure that our students were safe," said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith.

Since the tragedy at Columbine, there has been increased training of administrators and teachers. The schools and police train constantly on what to do in an emergency. But Friday's tragedy may have many school districts taking a fresh look at their security plans.

"This is something that we train for all the time in the event that we have to respond to enforce an incident of an active shooter," said Chief Steve Zipperman of the L.A. Unified School District Police. "All of our officers are trained in it."

Teachers are part of that training. They know to lock down the classrooms if something happens. Warren Fletcher, president of the more than 30,000 member United Teachers of Los Angeles, admits they can't turn every school into an armed fortress.

"Schools have to be places where kids can came and go, and parents can come and go," Fletcher said. "At the same time, we have to take every possible step to make sure that every child is safe in every classroom."

News of the shooting had 24-year-old father Hector Vasquez of Buena Park trying to wrap his mind around the tragedy.

"What posses this person just to go to a children's classroom and shoot them up?" Vasquez said. "To me, it's mind boggling."

At Thorpe Elementary School, Joseph Leocadio says the shooting was on the minds of many parents picking up their children. The father of six says he know at some point, he'll have to explain the tragedy with his two elementary-age children.

"It's going to be unavoidable. It'll be on the news, it'll be discussed at church, and it's still a question hanging over our heads," he said.

The Santa Ana Unified School District plans on having a crisis team in place on Monday to help students deal with shooting.

"We want to make sure that our parents know what we're doing and to make them feel comfortable about sending their students to school," said district spokeswoman Deidra Powell.

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