After Conn. Shooting, Some Police Step Up Presence Near Schools
Though the tragic shooting Friday at a Connecticut elementary school occurred far from the Kansas City area, Overland Park police still stepped up its presence nearby local schools.
OPPD Public Information Officer Gary Mason said that although no additional patrol cars were put on duty Friday, Chief John Douglass did order officers to stay closer to local schools.
The intent of the closer patrols was to "send a message to the community and especially the parents of the thousands of kids in our schools in the city that everything is okay. We haven't had any credible threats, but we are watching just in case," Mason said.
The Kansas City Star reports that Leawood police also "stepped up patrols just to increase the feeling of security around the schools," and that Olathe police planned to have "an elevated presence in and around its schools" when students got out.
Other area school districts said that they weren't doing anything out of the ordinary Friday, but they were certain that their usual protocol kept schools safe and secure.
Investigations Lieutenant Mike Prindle with the Harrisonville, Mo. Police Department, said that while no increased measures were taken in light of Friday's incident, the local schools are transitioning to all having locked doors. He said also that each school has a "bubble," meaning that all visitors have to travel through the front office in order to reach classrooms. That way if there is any suspicion, adults working in the front office can act accordingly, he said.
Piper School District Superintendent Steve Adams echoed Prindle's confidence, stating that there's no way for visitors to get through to classrooms without first getting through front offices, and that schools are kept locked. He said the district has recently reviewed all its security measures.
Other school districts, including Turner and Bonner Springs, said virtually the same thing -- that they were confident in their schools' security protocol. School systems across the metro area all emphasized that they have developed carefully worked-out security systems since the Columbine tragedy in 1999.
Police also have coordinated plans for dealing with tragic, so-called "dynamic" incidents such as a shooting. Fairway Police Chief Mike Fleming said Northeast Johnson County law enforcement agencies developed a coordinated plan to cooperate in a major incident several years ago.
"We recognized that nobody around here can do it by themselves alone, and when a situation does happen, you’re going to get the calvary out, we’re all going to be there for you," Fleming said. "We’re all taking care of our own business on the day-to-day operations, but when something really tragic happens, everyone’s going to be there for everyone else."