The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


December 16, 2012

Following Connecticut tragedy, local officials discuss school safety


Past school shootings

Friday’s shooting in Newtown is the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. The Virginia Tech University shooting in Blacksburg, Va., resulted in the deaths of 33 people — including the shooter who shot himself — and 17 wounded on April 16, 2007.

The Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colo., resulted in 16 deaths, including 12 students, one teacher and the two student shooters, who died from self-inflicted gunshots, on April 20, 1999.

The Columbine shooting shook the country and caused many school and law enforcement officials to add mass shootings to the their list of contingency plans.

Local contingency plans

Today’s students are drilled on more than fires and severe weather — they have also been forced to learn what to do in case an intruder or a fellow student opens fire in their hallways or classrooms

Limestone County Schools has 13 major school sites, including six elementary schools, six K-12 schools and the Limestone Career Technical Center, plus the Limestone County Alternative School and Ombudsman Center.

The system has approximately 1,100 employees and more than 9,100 students. The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office provides seven certified school resource officers that rotate among the schools.

The Central Office confirmed that all students in the system participate in lockdown drills throughout the year in the event of a school shooting.

The Sheriff’s Office has a contingency plan in the event of a local school shooting, but the specifics are not made public for security reasons.

“All of our school officers are nationally certified, which includes specialized training for emergencies and disasters, and we do have a plan,” said sheriff’s department Capt. Fred Sloss, who supervises school resource officers. “I think the schools are safe, but this could happen anywhere so we have to be prepared.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who brings weapons on school property.”

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