Police Step Up Patrols After Connecticut Shootings

Loudoun County superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick writes "I make the safety of our students and staff my first priority."

As people across the country began to process the aftermath of a Friday elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Loudoun County Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick wrote a letter to the schools community, detailing the system's security measures and saying local law enforcement would be stepping up its patrol around area schools.

Hatrick posted his note on the Loudoun County Public Schools site Friday. It runs unedited below.

To the Loudoun County Public Schools Community,

In the wake of today’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I wanted to reach out to you and detail what we do in an effort to make our schools secure.

 First, I want you to know that Loudoun’s security planning predates the Columbine tragedy. We have worked with law enforcement officials for more than a decade to make our schools as secure as possible, while still recognizing that we are an institution of public education. After the September 11th attacks we severely limited access to our schools by locking and monitoring entrances. We want to ensure that only people who have legitimate business in our schools are allowed inside. Loudoun’s schools use the AiPhone system, secure-card access, cameras and DVR-recording equipment to monitor access and activities in and around our schools. Today, I have sent a memorandum to our principals to make sure they review and reinforce all school security measures that are in place, particularly with regard to controlling access to our schools.

Our high schools and middle schools have school resource officers, uniformed members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Leesburg Police Department, on duty at the school. In addition, safety and security specialists are deployed at the high schools. They work in partnership with school resource officers to maintain school safety and security.

Today, our safety and security supervisor, Suzanne Devlin, a former Fairfax police chief, spoke with all local law enforcement agencies in Loudoun (the Sheriff's Office and police departments in Leesburg, Purcellville and Middleburg) about stepping up routine patrols around our elementary schools. I am pleased to say that all these agencies have agreed to do so.

Recently, the school system provided law enforcement agencies with key card access to ensure immediate access to schools in the case of any violent encounter. This is part of a safety plan that is practiced regularly by law enforcement agencies in our facilities.

With all we do to make our schools secure, I realize that there will be students who are upset about what happened today. I have attached a document from our Pupil Services Department that details things you may want to speak with your child about (Parent Resource:  Addressing Acts of Violence in Schools, click here.)  As always, school counselors, teachers and our school administrators are available to speak to any child who may have fears or concerns about the safety of their school.

Finally, as the father of three children who graduated from Loudoun’s schools and the grandfather of young children, I am deeply saddened and concerned about what happened in a public school today. As your superintendent, I make the safety of our students and staff my first priority; a priority I share with our School Board and my fellow superintendents across America.

Susan Thompson December 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Dear Mr. Hatrick the first thing that you need to do is ensure all schools, especially the high schools, have cell phone service through out the entire school. We all know that every kid and teacher has a cell phone but in some of the high schools it has been made so that no service is available. In the event of an emergency I would want every student and teacher to be able to grab that phone and dial 911 and be able to reach help on the other end. One of the interviewed Sandy Hook teachers said she tried to call 911 with her cell phone but had no service, how awful and terrifying to know what was happening and not being able to communicate with the outside. If the worry is kids talking on the phone during class then get a backbone and enforce the rules, give a warning then take the phone away and the parent has to come to the school to retrieve the phone. I would much rather there be cell service in the event of an emergency than not.
joe brewer December 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Instead of cell phone service how about panic buttons in the classrooms and halls . Connected to the main office, school security,Sherriffs Department and a school alarm system . Extolling the virtues of cell phones at schools is a long reach.


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