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Things Will Return to a State of Normalcy, Browning Says

A concerned parent addressed the board at its meeting Tuesday regarding continued police presence at elementary schools.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary was on the minds of many at the Pasco County School Board's last regular meeting of the year Tuesday.

Board chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong opened the meeting with a moment of silence to reflect on the victims and loved ones affected by the Dec. 14 mass murder.

Several school officials took an opportunity to express their thanks to Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco and his staff for working closely and quickly with the district during the weekend to implement tighter security at schools this week.

The support from the sheriff's office "made a big difference in making everyone feel safer," assistant superintendent for elementary schools Dr. David Skanga said.

Schools throughout the county are all looking at ways to increase security "within the confines of the buildings we live in," Skanga said.

The tragedy also spurred the district to look more closely at ways it can use social media to reach parents and the public when emergencies arise.

"It was very difficult to stay ahead of the rumors and calm fears," assistant superintendent for secondary schools Tina Tiede said. District staff will be looking at social media and "how we can use it to stay ahead" of the rumors and communicate, she said.

One parent attended Tuesday evening's meeting to address the board about ongoing security at the county's elementary schools.

Wendy Seth said two of her three children attend Lake Myrtle Elementary in Land O' Lakes. She came to the meeting to ask the board if uniformed officers would remain at schools indefinitely.

Though board members typically do not respond to public comments at meetings, Superintendent Kurt Browning requested permission to answer the question.

Police presence will not continue after this week, Browning said.

"We believe things will come back to a state of normalcy," he said, noting that the sight of uniformed officers can have a different effect on elementary age students than older students.

"I believe this is a big mistake," Seth said, "There are copy cats…there is no excuse in this day and age for there not to be police presence at the elementary level."

The Connecticut native said the tragedy hit close to home with her.

"I realize money is tight but when it comes to safety, something needs to be done," she said. "It's not right to pretend like it’s not happening because it’s out there.

"Parents are just waiting for the next tragedy to happen."

Do you think there should be a continued police presence in Pasco County elementary schools? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

See also: How Would Pasco React in a School-Based Crisis?

Mary in LOL December 19, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I support the idea of a police officer in every school. I grew up in an area that had a foot patrol in neighborhoods. Everyone knew our local cop. Men and boys would walk with him and talk. He knew which families and which kids were troublemakers and which were trustworthy, and the neighborhood also knew the policeman and would not tolerate anyone who did not set a good example for their children. I think the right officer in each school would go a long way to improve police/community relations. But there are also inexpensive ways to meet this challenge. Dale McClellan of Special Tactical Services has made some suggestions, which appear in an article on http://spectator.org/archives/2012/12/17/preventing-school-massacres/ He suggests training for teachers in situational awareness, installing ballistic doors with magnetic locks on classrooms which would prevent most shooters from getting into the rooms, and ballistic blankets that can stop most handgun rounds and most high velocity fragmentation rounds. He also suggests school staff have access to non-lethal means of subduing an attacker, such as Tasers.

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