SDPD Steps Up Presence at Local Schools

As parents around the U.S. dropped their children off at bus stops or outside schools Monday morning, San Diego police officers had stepped up their presence at school campuses around the city.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner met with local law enforcement and school leaders to discuss steps they were taking to ensure the safety of children in public school following the deadly shooting in Newtown, Conn.

On Friday, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killing 20 children and six adults. He then took his own life.

Among the increased security will be community service officers, San Diego police officers and school police.

“What we'll be doing over the next few days is taking a look at the impact of this, school by school, and determine what kind of response is necessary," said Joe Fulcher, Chief Student Services Officers with the San Diego Unified School District.

SDUSD school police train side-by-side with SDPD for various scenarios including an active shooter on school grounds.

Rueben Littlejohn, Police Chief for San Diego Unified School District, said the key for campus readiness is training, training and more training.

“There’s not going to ever be 100 percent security system in place that’s going to keep everyone in place wherever they go, we all know that,” Littlejohn said. “But having those tools and having them readily accessible on instinct and you can kick into your plan, that’s what we’re looking for from all of our schools and our principals.”

While not a silver bullet, local leaders are also hoping the offer of help might prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Programs like “Students Speaking Out” and “It’s Up to Us San Diego” offer hotlines that are available to residents who suspect a problem or are struggling with mental illness respectively.

"The trick of our community would be to make sure that these indicators get to the right people at the right time,” Mayor Filner said. “Obviously you can't stop every little incident, but the pattern is that all of these people stood out on some way.”

SDPD Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long encouraged the public to take an active role in preventing shootings in public places.

“Whether it was a school shooting, a shooting in a mall or a shooting in a theater. In most cases, if not all cases, somebody had information ahead of time that potentially predicted this type of activity,” Long said.

“If you see someone, or know someone or hear something say something to somebody,” he said.

San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne said if it were up to him, “assault weapons should be banned across the board.”

But that's a political issue,” Lansdowne said. “But it's certainly one I'm very much interested in."

In the next couple of days, a video for parents will be available on the San Diego police department and school districts websites to walk adults through specifics on how to help children through issues related to the crisis in Newtown.

For more information:

“Students Speaking Out” - To anonymously report crime and dangerous activities taking place in San Diego County schools call 619-508-TIPS or 888-508-TIPS

“It’s Up to Us San Diego” - To identify that you or someone you know may need help with anger, depression, violence or loneliness call 888-724-7240

Contact Us