Prince George's county police say they've increased their presence at local elementary schools in light of Friday's mass shooting in Newtown, CT.
PGPD Spokeswoman Julie Parker tweeted that Prince George's police will be conducting patrols at county schools and maintaining a high profile.
"There is no specific threat and/or intelligence to suggest that Prince George's County schools are at increased risk," police officials said in a statement.
She added that the patrols will continue on Monday.
According to a PGCPS spokesperson, staff received reminders about school safety practices on Friday, and security was increased as a precaution.
“Our hearts go out to the students, teachers, parents and families affected by today’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Schools are safe havens for our children," Dr. Alvin L. Crawley, PGCPS interim superintendent, said Friday. "As a society, we must come together to ensure that this type of callous incident does not happen again.”
Prince George's County emergency responders have carried out drills in the past year for just the type of situation that transpired Friday in Connecticut.
In July, PGCPS—in conjunction with the county police and fire departments—hosted a mass shooting drill at Dr. Henry A. Wise High School in Upper Marlboro. The exercise was conducted just days after a massacre at an Aurora, CO movie theater.
“Our responsibility to protect our children begins with effective strategies, and is reinforced with joint training exercises with our public safety partners,” Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said during that drill.
Last week, Dematha High School in Hyattsville also ran through a mass shooting drill during school hours with the full student body present. The exercise was done in conjunction with the PGPD, Hyattsville City Police, and Riverdale Park Police.
HCPD Cpl. Mike Rudinski said a drill with student involvement hadn't happened before in the county. Students were given the option for an excused absence, but all chose to attend the drill.
County police have also done the following to prepare for mass shootings:
- PGPD trains annually for active shooter events
- PGPD began training for active shooter events after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999
- PGPD officers are trained to immediately enter a location and engage active threats, with the intention of capturing or neutralizing the assailant(s)
- Last month, all PGPD police officers were required to view a training video which covered PGPD procedure in response to active shooters, and highlighted techniques to engage the threat as quickly as possible to prevent the loss of life
- PGPD staffs school resource officers at many area schools
County Executive Rushern Baker also expressed his condolences Friday via Twitter: "Pr. George's Co. sends its thoughts and prayers to the families and communities of Connecticut shooting tragedy. A sad day in America."
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) released the following statement:
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families of this tragedy. The entire nation stands with the community of Newtown. Today is a day for mourning and prayer, but we must immediately get to work to end these senseless, mass killings of innocent Americans. Together, we must act now to stop the carnage.”
Tell us: Do you think your children's schools are prepared for an incident like the one in Newtown, CT? Do you think schools can even prepare for a mass shooting? How do you talk to your children about events like this?