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Sorrow and Horror as CB and Nation React to School Shooting

Central Bucks school officials reach out to parents and police say they train for these crises, as the country reacts with horror to the shooting at a Newtown, Conn. school.

Central Bucks school officials reached out to parents Friday in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Connecticut.

By the end of the day Friday, the nation and the world knew that a gunman killed 20 children, many of them kindergartners, and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The gunman died at the scene, and another victim was found later for a total of 28 dead.

Central Bucks Superintendent Dr. Rodney Green sent a message Friday afternoon through the district's email notification system to parents and school staff.

Green told Doylestown Patch that he wanted to reassure parents that Central Bucks schools take a proactive stance to school safety.

"We take safety issues very seriously," Green said. "We want parents to know that we rehearse and prepare for all kinds of crises. Student safety is our top priority."

Green said a few parents called the district offices throughout the afternoon with concerns about the shooting. More questions may come up next week, he said, and district staff, from principals to counselors to administrators, will be ready to address them.

"This happened on Friday, and now it's the weekend, and I think it will take people a little while to process it all," Green said. "When we come back to school on Monday, people may have more concerns they want to address."

Doylestown-area police, meanwhile, say they practice for crises such as mass shootings both in their own forces and as a wider, regional crisis incident response team.

"We’ve held training sessions using a school to conduct scenarios to better prepare for a critical incident at a school," said Doylestown Borough Lt. Pat Penecale. "Our main goal, of course, is going into the school and stopping the threat as quickly as we can."

Once municipal officers get to the scene and determine that the situation is critical, Penecale said they would call for backup from other neighboring departments.

If warranted, they would also then call for the regional SWAT team, the Bucks County Major Incident Response Team. That team includes specially trained officers from police forces across the Central Bucks area.

Doylestown Township Police Chief Dean Logan said that's exactly how events unfolded this summer, when an armed gunman holed up in his estranged wife's home during a 10-hour standoff.

"Our guys would come in and would contact the Central Bucks special response team, which is what took place over here in Doylestown Lea on Father’s Day," Logan said.

 

Below is the message Green sent to Central Bucks parents and staff:

"I am sure you have heard about the terrible school shooting which occurred in Connecticut this morning. We are all horrified by this, and those families and staff are in our thoughts and prayers. I have alerted our Principals so that they can be prepared to help you with any concerns you have. Our goal is to remain strong and to reassure our parents and students that this is an isolated case, and we continue to remain vigilant and proactive when it comes to safety. We need to protect our young children from the details on the news and help them feel safe at school.

In the past few years, we have increased our preparation to deal with all kinds of safety issues. We have added a variety of safety drills to our regular monthly fire drills. We have prepared our staff to deal with the unexpected. Safety procedures are reviewed on a regular basis and our administrators, teachers, and other staff and review this throughout the year. We have practice “tabletop” drills with schools and go over different scenarios. We have safety committees in every school and they meet regularly to discuss potential issues.  We take these issues very seriously and continue to remain vigilant regarding student safety.

Let’s please keep the families and staff in Connecticut in our thoughts and prayers as they deal with this tragedy. Please know that we in Central Bucks will continue to keep safety and preparedness as a top priority."

Carol December 14, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I feel for the families in Newtown,CT. I am absolutely heartbroken over what happened. I cannot imagine what the families are going through. I cannot imagine what the investigators are going through after seeing what they have seen.
BV Mom December 15, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I never comment on news stories ever, but I felt the need to comment here. Central Bucks has done a truly amazing job in dealing with this awful tragedy. Thank you, CB, for your pro-active approach, your reassurance of your efforts to protect our children and your information on how to communicate with them about this event. I am a Bridge Valley mom and received a particularly touching e-mail from my son's teacher that warmed my heart on this very dark day. We are blessed in this community to have teachers that truly care for our children. I am so heartbroken. My family is holding the small Ct. community closely in our hearts.
Denise Boecklen December 15, 2012 at 02:33 PM
We need to ID how the madman breeched security and entered the locked school and then let other schools know so they can be more secure. As our country tries to figure out how to keep children safe, I don't think we can ignore all of the murders on TV shows and in movies. I think a mentally ill person can turn on TV any night of the week and watch a murder which gives them ideas and desensitizes them to murder. Don't companies that air these fictional murders in TV shows and movies have a social responsibility? I think our country's high murder rate (usually with guns) is related to all of the violence on TV and movies.
ccminnich December 15, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I would like to begin a conversation in the media on a point which I think has been overlooked and may be a major contributing factor and common denominator in these horrific tragedies. Health care. I have noted that parents who feel concern for the mental or physical heath of their child over 18, due to privacy laws, cannot initiate help for their child unless the child agrees to seek care, or has already done something to “endanger themselves or others" Then it might be too late! In our current system, health care is tied to employment. Those with debilitating mental health care issues may not be able to hold down a job with benefits. I would like to hear from parents who had a concern for their grown children’s health and felt that the system was preventing or limiting care!
jloppi1 December 16, 2012 at 01:19 AM
As a teacher and a parent, I feel their MUST be full time armed security and/or police officers present in every public school in the US as well as metal detectors. Our children and teachers are now targets. Drills and talking with our students are all very good. But there are far too many buildings in school districts that are outdated and just not safe. I know that in most, if not all, CB schools, visitors must go through the office first- but what is to stop that person from entering armed? Also students move in and out of mods, creating opportunities for an intruder to slip in. Stronger gun laws and enforcement are absolutely needed, but we can not sit around and wait for that. As a nation, we need to take measures towards meaningful change NOW, starting with metal detectors and armed security guards or police officers at every school. Or, how about the National Guard or creating a new branch serving only schools? Gates are another idea. Would all of this make our schools totally safe? No, but it is essential to put safeguards- layers, of safety in place making it more difficult and time consuming to get onto school property. I am not worried this would scare my children- that is the realty of this world we live in. I am not saying that these are all the answers and I am one person coming up with these ideas...but I am hoping this is the start of a conversation that leads to real, meaningful safeguards.

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