EPISD officials reflect on security changes one year after Sandy Hook massacre


POSTED: Monday, December 16, 2013 - 10:27pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 12:09pm

It's hard to imagine someone intentionally hurting young children, especially while they are at school.Then, the shooting at Sandy Hook just last year shocked the nation, when it killed 20 students and 6 adults.

The tragedy forced local school leaders to take a look at their own campuses and beef up security.

"Officers walking the halls, meeting with students, interacting with parents," said El Paso ISD Police Chief, Victor Araiza.

This year, Texas lawmakers passed a bill requiring all schools to conduct at least one evacuation drill, one lock down, and one shelter-in-place exercise every school year.

"Training and conducting drills and being aware of when someone comes in the building. They challenge them," said Araiza.

The chief of police at the El Paso Independent School District says the more than one hundred campuses are right on track, but they are making one change.

"Deploying our resources to assure that those elementary schools get that coverage they weren't seeing before," said Araiza.

 Police were at every middle school and high school, but not the elementary schools.

"The officer or a police car if they see it on a regular basis, they're less likely to approach that campus," said Araiza.

One EPISD parent suggested another change.

"I'm hoping for better hiding places because all you can do is hide the students and close the door. So everyone knows about code blue. The door is locked and the people that come in know there are students hiding and they know where," said an EPISD student.

EPISD also plans to staff safe and secure coordinators to build on the already existing safety plans and take more suggestions from parents.

 The Texas School Safety Center said it recommended schools conduct at least one of the drills every month.

The Chief of Police at EPISD said it will not be fiscally possible to staff police at every one of the 56 elementary schools, but plan on showing some kind of presence as often as possible.

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