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Sewickley-Area Police Increase Patrols at Local Schools

Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy review their own safety procedures following Friday's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.

Sewickley, Edgeworth and Leetsdale police provided additional patrols Monday at schools in the Quaker Valley School District.

It was the first day back to school since Friday's fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, CT.  

Sewickley Police Chief James Ersher said school leaders were in touch with his department over the weekend and Monday, with some asking to review safety protocols with police. Ersher said police were also more visible around Sewickley-area schools.

Tina Vojtko, district spokeswoman, said there was a heightened sense of awareness Monday among parents, teachers and local law enforcement.

"Student safety has always been a priority for us," Vojtko said.

Safety plans

Vojtko said principals in all of the four school buildings are reviewing safety plans and procedures.

Mandi Semple, Sewickley Academy spokeswoman, said school leaders there plan to meet this week to review the school's comprehensive crisis-management plan, which addresses potential natural or man-made threats. 

"Both the plan and the security provisions we have in place to deal with a range of potential challenges from things like a tornado or a chemical spill from a train on the track along the Ohio River, to an armed intruder, have been reviewed by local law enforcement, as well as a nationally recognized expert on safety and security, who have all approved the plans we currently have in place," the academy said in a statement.

Security measures

At Quaker Valley, a range of security measures are also in place. Each school building is locked, and visitors must be buzzed in before they can walk in the school. High school guests must also turn in their car keys while visiting the building. 

Quaker Valley employs an armed police officer. Officer Robert Wright has been the school resource officer for several years and spends most of his time at the high school. On Monday, he was making the rounds, visiting all of the district schools.  

Vojtko said school officials spoke with parents, some who needed reassurance about the safety procedures in place, or who wanted to express appreciation for the information the district has provided. On Friday, Superintendent Joseph Clapper issued a district-wide statement to parents and students in which he included tips on how to talk to children about such incidents.

Vojtko said she's sure some parents have struggled with the Newton shooting, balancing what to share and even how much to share about what happened. She said the district mainly wants to be supportive.

"We want to leave that decision up to the families," she said. 

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Rob Gregoire December 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM
She does not feel safe. She thinks they should have metal detectors in every school.
Amy Rosenberg December 18, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Why do we not have one person in each office of the school who has gun training and the use of a gun. These brave individuals tried to stop this gunman with their body. If they had a gun and were able to shoot the gunman, we would have lost not one child and half of the adults. We have plenty of individuals with guns protecting the president and his family. Are our children of less value?

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