The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 24, 2013

Schools update security measures, undergo drills

(Continued)

DANVILLE —

With school violence increasing nationwide, parents no longer question the security measures and, in fact, are requesting that more be done.

“I’ve had a parent or two that called after the Sandy Hook tragedy asking if we were going to put an officer in all of the schools,” Denman said.

A resource officer has been a part of the high school’s landscape since 2002 and, in 2011, resource officers were added at North Ridge and South View middle schools.

Just last week the Associated Press reported that school officials in Terre Haute, Ind., announced plans to post 12 armed police officers with full arrest powers inside all of the city’s schools. The annual cost of the measure is $353,000, with the Vigo County School Corp. splitting the cost with the city the first year.

Denman, however, said “there’s been no recommendation” to add resource officers in Danville’s elementary schools.

“Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, Public Safety Director Larry Thomason reviewed our safety plans, which he thought were well-thought out,” Denman said.

Thomason agreed. “Each school has developed their own safety plan. They’re in order and they keep them up to date.”

Shift officers now make periodic visits at the elementary schools, and Sheriff Pat Hartshorn has visited Southwest Elementary School, which is outside Danville’s city limits.

Safety isn’t convenient

Since Sandy Hook, Henton said the staff and teachers at all of the schools have been reminded repeatedly to make sure the exterior doors to the school buildings are shut and locked.

“We tell them ‘do not prop the door open anymore, and don’t leave doors unlocked,’” Henton said.

“We just can’t take a chance anymore,” he said. “When it comes to the safety of the children, I’m sorry if it’s not convenient.

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