Last week, the U.S. experienced one of its worst tragedies in recent memory when Adam Lanza opened fire in a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, killing 20 children and 6 adults.
As students nationwide returned to school Monday, several questions loom regarding the safety of America’s youth. To address concerns on the local level, Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker offered the following message on department's Facebook page:
The Stow Police Department in conjunction with the Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools is committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment for the students and faculty of our schools. In keeping with that commitment, the Stow Police Department is working with the Administration of the Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools to provide increased Police presence at all of the elementary schools within the City of Stow.
At this time the Stow Police Department has a School Resource Officer assigned to the Stow-Munroe Falls High School on a full-time basis. The department also has a DARE Officer who teaches the program in the city schools.
As an adjunct to these programs, the Stow Police Department provides additional police presence at the schools through the Adopt-A-Cop Program, which requires Police Officers to visit the schools in their districts several times a week.
The department has always been aware of the need for a police presence in the schools and we will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to insure that we are providing a high level of security for our students and teachers by meeting with the city administration and the school administration to develop a long range plan for school security.
In a phone call with Patch, Dirker also explained what Stow police are prepared to do in the event of an emergency.
If someone enters a Stow school with the intent to do harm, Dirker would immediately send three to four heavily armed officers into the affected building to take care of the threat. This form of response is known as rapid deployment.
Dirker explained Stow officers go through annual field training exercises and learn how to quickly sweep through school buildings in order to find and neutralize one or more targets. They’re trained to shoot AR-15 rifles, which are found in each Stow police cruiser.
The schools and police would then work to get students out of harm's way.
"In the event of an emergency, we would notify parents through a phone blast," said Stow-Munroe Falls spokeswoman Jacquie Mazziotta. "The superintendent would give a briefing of the events and procedures for picking up children."