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State College Area School District Continues to Focus on Security in Schools

by on June 06, 2013 10:49 AM

Highly visible "No Weapons Allowed" signs are now posted in schools throughout the State College Area School District. It's not a new policy, but this is the latest of several steps district officials are taking to keep students, teachers and staff safe. 

Ed Poprik, Director of Physical Plant, says a number of new security measures will be enacted by the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. Details will be released to the public once the new security measures are in place.

"Weapons have been banned for many years," Poprik says. "In February, we did an audit of each facility with a committee comprised of district personnel, emergency management experts and local police. The group felt that the signs would be a good reminder to people about the long-standing policy and applicable laws."

District officials work closely with local police to ensure safety in schools. In December, police became more visible at area schools after the tragic Sandy Hook shootings.

State College Police Chief Tom King says while it was the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. that prompted the increased police presence, it's not new, and it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone entering a school and seeing an officer. The police are committed to having officers in secondary schools at all times. 

"In December, we said, 'What more can we do immediately,' and we decided we would start a school patrol," King says. 

Officers were stationed in all of the schools that lie within the department's zone, and officers rotate shifts. Officers will also conduct "random walk-throughs" of schools at unspecified times during the day. 

King says the police department will continue to staff the school and in the long term, intend to increase police presence. It's not meant to intimidate students or parents but rather give them peace of mind. 

"It's gone very well," King says. "Teachers, parents and students are used to seeing officers in the school. They're there to create a safe learning environment."

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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