The bottom-line key to security and safety in our schools – vigilance. Earlier this week Inyo County Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer held a meeting of school, law enforcement and mental health officials in the wake of the horrible shootings in Connecticut. Inyo Sheriff Bill Lutze was among law enforcement officials at the meeting.
Sheriff Lutze said his department offered to help each school with site security plans. He said it’s important for teachers to be trained as well as janitors and bus drivers. Said Lutze, “They need to be vigilant and enforce rules.”
As for the national issue of armed guards and armed teachers at schools, Sheriff Lutze said the group touched on this issue but did not really discuss it. This is something that currently will not take place in Inyo schools. Sheriff Lutze did say he thinks the best alternative, if it ever becomes necessary, would be to hire an armed security company or off-duty police officers.
As for the cost of any advanced school security, Lutze said that he sees the current situation “almost like 9-11. In the year after the event, agencies are bombarded with grants but now you can hardly get any money at all.” Lutze said the Connecticut shooting incident may be the same with initial money that dwindles. He said he would like to see one-time money to upgrade school infrastructure like camera surveillance.
The Sheriff also emphasized the importance of identifying kids who have issues – loners, bullyism and mood changes. He said this means training for teachers and staff. At this week’s meeting, Lutze said Inyo Mental Health Psychologist Gail Zwear discussed a profile of a troubled kid, how to notify authorities and how to respond. Superintendent McAteer had earlier said that a counseling program currently works with 100 local families.
In February, Sheriff Lutze said his department along with the California Emergency Management Agency will co-sponsor a class for school superintendents, principals, fire and emergency medical responders on how to deal with active shooters.