"All Hands on Deck" - Chief Fitch, ups police presence at schools

6:45 AM, Dec 17, 2012   |    comments
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Video: School Safety

St. Louis County, MO (KSDK) - Police officers are planning on being more present at schools Monday morning. This comes on the heels of the Friday's school shooting in Connecticut that left 20 students dead.

If you have elementary-aged kids living in St. Louis county you will most likely see uniformed officers in front of the school Monday morning. County Police Chief Tim Fitch said for now it's "all hands on deck."

The scenes from Friday will stay with us, images of heartache, fear and utter shock. Parents all over afraid it could happen again.

"I think there should be security or something in the schools at all times for this reason," says Randall Milan who is a father of two girls ages 8 and 10.

The St. Louis County Police department is stepping up patrols around both private and public elementary schools. Chief Tim Fitch says the department has be inundated with calls from concerned parents. So, starting Monday county officers will visit elementary schools in unincorporated areas, or areas that don't have city police departments.

Chief Fitch says many schools have taken precautionary measures, like practicing intruder drills, adding security systems and locking doors during school hours, which on Friday didn't make a difference.

"He broke into the school, the school was locked, so how else can you protect these kids, short of arming officials in the school with proper training and having these firearms available to them," says Chief Fitch, who knows it's a controversial move.

He says it's just one idea, but insists that something has to be done.

"Arming school officials is not a new conversation, we had that conversation right after Columbine, but we didn't do anything about it because too many people were squeamish about it and said 'Oh my gosh, guns in schools?'" says Chief Fitch.

Parents have mixed feelings about weapons in school, just wanting to make sure the they get in the hands of the right people.

"What's their background what's going to happen, you don't know," says David Townsend who is a father of two young boys.

"I'm not a big fan of having the guns in school," says Milan. "I would assume 1 or 2 should be armed, yes."

"We feel personally responsible for every child who goes to school in St. Louis county and if we don't do everything that we can do to try to stop this in the future, then shame on us," says Chief Fitch.

He says most high schools have School Resource Officers, some middle schools have them and now more and more elementary schools will be asking for them.

He and his department will be a meeting this week with school leaders to talk about the future of safety at our county schools.




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