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Sheriff: Local schools are safe

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - Updated: 8:07 AM

By PETE KLEIN

Express News Staff

INDIAN LAKE - The recent school shootings in Connecticut have many people worried about something similar happening here in Hamilton County, but Sheriff Karl G. Abrams believes local schools are safe.

Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way through locked doors and into Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14, 2012. He killed 26 people, including 20 students, before committing suicide when police arrived about 20 minutes later.

Abrams told a recent meeting of local school board superintendents, school board presidents and town supervisors, “We hope it never happens here but we need to be prepared.”

Abrams’ view of being prepared does not include meeting force with force. “I am not comfortable with the idea of arming teachers, staff or janitors,” he said, explaining this would require intensive training and could become an insurance and liability issue for the schools.

“You can be armed to the teeth but if something happens, something happens,” Abrams said.

Recognizing the fact that his department does not have enough deputies to act as armed guards in schools, Abrams recommended the following.

He believes better security begins by investing in a security system. While all doors should allow easy exit in case of fire or other emergency, ingress should be confined to one or two doors at most and the entrance(s) used by the public should ideally be opened with a buzzer after identification and possibly be monitored by a camera.

According to Wells Central School Superintendent Thomas Sincavage, the State of New York has told schools it will give 10 percent more building aid than usual for safety-related projects.Abrams said he and his deputies could make random patrols of local schools. “We can make our presence known by stopping by and coming into the schools once a day but at different times,” he said.

Just in case there is ever an incident requiring a response by law enforcement, Abrams asked the schools to provide detailed blueprints he could download to the computers in his patrol vehicles. This could help members of the department know how and where to best respond to an incident.

To further familiarize the department with the schools, Abrams is seeking permission to use the schools during the summer for “active shooter” training drills.

These drills would include armed law personnel using blanks or paintballs, emergency personnel and even someone posing as a gunman.

The drills would be conducted during summer vacation so as not to frighten students.

     

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