Local officials continue to reflect on the horrible shootings of children and adults at Sandy Hook school in Connecticut. Inyo Sheriff Bill Lutze and Inyo Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer are making the key points for how everyone should interact with local schools and watch closely for troubled students and others.
The two officials offered advice on weapons, awareness and school visitor rules. Sheriff Lutze said, “We want to make sure everyone secures their weapons. Make sure you have an appropriate gun lock. Have gun safes in your home.” A number of shooting tragedies have involved use of parents’ guns to commit crimes.
Sheriff Lutze pointed to a local example of concern. He said, “I was walking around Vons the other day. There were several guns in open view in vehicles. This is a hunting community so there are weapons, but we want to make sure they are as secure as possible.
Law enforcement has also discovered that in many shooting cases, perpetrators talk to someone before they commit a crime. Sheriff Lutze said, “In most of these incidents involving schools and other shootings where there are casualties, people express what they’re going to do either on social media, to a family friend or a friend they confide in. It’s very important that people take this seriously and let us know that this is what this person is contemplating so we can deal with it before any
action takes place.”
And, at our schools, officials are enforcing simple rules for visitors. Inyo Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer said number one, visitors need to go to the school office first. McAteer said, “I really believe one of the most important things happens to be that all visitors, parents included, need to go through the front desk. We have parents and visitors,” he said, “who sort of know where everything is on campus so they enter through the ball field, through a side door – and that’s not accepted anymore.”
McAteer said officials have put lanyards or identifying tags on school staff so that they know who staff members are, and visitors will be getting lanyards so that they will be officially identified. Said McAteer, “If you don’t have a tag on, you will be confronted by our staff.”
So at our schools, go to the front office. Said McAteer, “This is critical. We learned from Sandy Hook that we have to have all staff, all visitors, all parents going through one entrance.”
McAteer pointed to another key concern – mental health problems. He encouraged people to seek out mental health help for family and friends in the community. “If you know somebody is very troubled,” said McAteer, “You can’t stand back anymore. You have to be proactive on this.”
McAteer said Inyo schools are proactive, looking at every student on campus to have a support network. Said the Superintendent, “Especially kids we know are withdrawn or have expressed anger at certain times. We’re actually reaching out to them.”
The Schools now have North Star Counseling to provide affordable therapy, supported by a State Health grant.