Area school administrators and law enforcement officials are reviewing safety procedures in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. earlier today.
Rick Ball, assistant superintendent of Mercer County Schools, said there are plans and security measures in place in every school in the county in case of a similar incident.
“We always do a review of security procedures at the beginning of each new year,” Ball said. “Most principals review those throughout the year with their staff to fine tune any issues. This is a tough issue and a tough situation for parents to deal with. We encourage parents to reassure their children during this time.”
McDowell County School Superintendent Nelson Spencer said communication is essential to school security.
“We have a lot of teachers who have undergone crisis prevention intervention training for these type of scenarios,” Spencer said. “We ask people to communicate to us if an incident like this could occur and communicate it immediately so we can prevent it. Schools are traditionally the safest places for children, and I know these incidents are shocking and make parents apprehensive.”
Major Harold Heatley, chief deputy of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, said law enforcement undergo tactical training on how to respond to school shootings.
“One of the things we’ve done in light of these events is to ask all of our deputies to drive by our schools and look to see if anything is out of place,” he said. “If anyone has information about an incident like this or threats, they need to report them to law enforcement... Take threats seriously. If there is a suspicious package or a suspicious person hanging out around our schools, contact law enforcement with as much information as you can so we can respond to this and do what we have to do.”