Walton County Public Schools released a statement Monday reassuring parents that measures are being taken at local schools to address Friday's tragic mass shooting in Connecticut.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and the school community of Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut," the statement reads, going on to add, "We want to assure our community that each facility in WCPS has a site specific GEMA approved safety plan and is operating with heightened security and awareness at this time. We are also sensitive to the concerns that this situation may have created for both students and parents. Staff members are available at the schools to talk with those in need of support or reassurance."
Lori Wood, of Monroe, a former EMS member with Walton County Fire and Rescue sent a letter to the school Monday detailing her concern over the incident. Wood is now an emergency specialist at the Grady Health System. She did say, however, that she was pleased to learn that WCPS is already working with GEMA on school safety measures. Her letter reads,
Having spent more than 20 years in public safety, I am unfortunately very aware of the limitations of our systems and I do not accept a friendly smile as proof that my children will be safe. Recently, while at a State meeting I was talking with a GEMA official who mentioned the Concealed Weapons Screening class that is offered to certain groups. This morning, I called that same official who confirmed that the class is available to schools and I was directed to the GEMA person that handles Walton County.
I must say that I was more than surprised and pleased to learn that you have already been working with her on overall safety for the schools. But, as a parent I hope that you will take full advantage of the screening courses offered by GEMA and insist that ALL school personnel attend. As we, the community, trust our children to you each day, you owe it to us to communicate the plans and the measures that will be taken to protect our children. Lori Wood
It was while on heightened awareness at Loganville High School on Friday that the Loganville Police Department arrested a former student who had entered the school without getting the proper clearance.
"We did have a male arrested at the high school (on Friday)," LPD Deputy Chief Dick Lowry said. "From what I understand, he was a former student who said he was there to get a work permit signed, but went to a classroom and started speaking with a student he knew. The teacher summoned the principal and (School Resource Officer). He was somewhat uncooperative initially but was determined not to be a threat to staff or students."
Lowry said the student was arrested.
"The tragedy was certainly the topic of the day at all the schools so that may have played some part in it," Lowry said. "But the schools have plans in place for such events and the teacher responded immediately and appropriately. Our SROs take a very proactive stance on all school security issues as well. It certainly helps having two officers at the high school during the day."
Lowry said while the department doesn't anticipate having additional officers stationed at schools at the time, patrol officers will be spending extra time patrolling the campuses.
The mass shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut Friday has sent shock waves through the country with school systems taking a hard look at security procedures. The Gwinnett County Police Department announced Friday that it would be conducting increased police patrols in and around the schools within Gwinnett County.
"These increased patrols will be a joint effort with the Gwinnett County School Police and Uniformed Officers with the Gwinnett County Police Department," Public Information Officer Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Friday in a press release. "Officers will be assigned to every school within Gwinnett County Police Jurisdiction and these patrols will last for the next several days."
Officials with Gwinnett County said there were concerns about the possibility of a "copy cat" or similar type incident occurring within Gwinnett County.