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State College Area School District Increases Police Presence in Wake of Newtown Tragedy

by on December 17, 2012 10:55 PM

An increased police presence will be in place at each school in the State College Area School District through the start of the winter holiday, at least.

During Monday night's regular State College Area School Board of Directors meeting, Superintendent Bob O'Donnell discussed measures the school has taken to enhance security in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Twenty-seven people, 20 children and seven adults, were killed in Friday's mass shooting by a gunman who then turned the gun on himself. 

State College Area administrators met with three local police chiefs – Tom King, from State College, Diane Conrad, from Ferguson Township and John Petrick, from Patton Township. King and Petrick were at the meeting on Monday.

"All building principals met, counselors met and created age-appropriate scripts," O'Donnell said. The district designed a way to talk about the tragedy with students at every grade level.

Local police officers monitored drop-off at schools this morning and during the winter break, the district will assess what kind of security measures to enact moving forward, O'Donnell said.

Communication will also be shared with parents regarding drills that help students practice and prepare should they ever need to go into lock down mode or evacuate a school. O'Donnell said there are already procedures in place at each school and there may be follow-up training conducted by local law enforcement.

Petrick said while the meeting was productive, local police departments were prior, and continue to be prepared to act and handle a crisis.

"Rest assured that our police department is prepared – the cavalry is coming," Petrick said.

King said he wanted to make sure the public was aware there is nothing to fear regarding law enforcement meeting with school officials – it's precautionary in nature and the relationship between the two has deep roots.

"Our local police departments work very closely together and are prepared to handle such incidents," King said. "The chiefs picking up the phone and calling the administration is very natural. Our relationship goes back years."

Few teachers had much to say regarding the mood at the school. They were in agreement, though, that while there was some discussion about the tragedy at the high school level, there was no visible anxiety among the students as they returned to school on Monday.

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