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Officers patrol local schools in wake of Connecticut tragedy

Staff Writer

BARSTOW • Barstow police patrolled schools within their jurisdiction, while the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department covered the remaining, as the Barstow Unified School District beefed up security Friday in wake of the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

“We’re on heightened alert,” Jeff Malan, superintendent of the BUSD, said.

BUSD wasn’t the only school district in the area on heightened alert, either. As word spread of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, Silver Valley Unified, Chino Valley Unified and Rialto Unified were at least three other nearby school districts that took similar measures.

At SVUSD, Superintendent Marc Jackson said the garrison commander at Fort Irwin and the school district’s security chief were contacted, while a school psychologist was notified just in case students wanted to speak with someone.

“These things are not supposed to happen to kids,” Jackson said. “It’s God awful.”

Jackson said all seven schools within the SVUSD have an extensive disaster awareness program, including a shooter program that mimics an event such as the one that occurred Friday, and all are expected to know and practice it — including staff, students and food handlers.

Malan said security in all schools within the BUSD also has always been a top priority.

Currently, in all BUSD schools, parents and visitors are required to sign-in at the front office and then are issued a visitor’s pass. Also, safety plans are already in place with regard to any type of emergency scenario. All teachers and personnel review them every school year. At the end of the year, they participate in practice drills.

Additionally, one police officer is based out of Barstow High and another out of Barstow Junior High.

Asked if there was anything to be learned or gained from such a tragedy as what occurred Friday, Malan answered in the affirmative.

“We always want to ensure we have our guidelines in place,” he said. “This will give us opportunity to review our current practices.”

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