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In Wake of Connecticut School Shooting, Security on Everyone's Minds

East Hampton police officials say 'we're prepared' if something tries to commit an act of violence in the schools, while school officials continue to look at precautions.

Across the Long Island Sound in an elementary school in Newtown, CT, 27 people have reportedly been shot and killed, 18 of them children, according to Newtown Patch.

The shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a man with four guns, including a high-powered rifle, has school and police officials in the Town of East Hampton re-examining safety measurements. Meanwhile, Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson has asked that all town flags be flown at half mast. "Let's all say a prayer for all affected by this horrible event," Wilkinson wrote in an email.

"I am watching, with horror, the reports of what transpired in CT earlier today; as educators we have, unfortunately, been increasingly exposed to similar events, in rural areas that one would not expect to be the site of such tragedy," Stuart Rachlin, the superintendent and principal of the Wainscott School, said in an email on Friday.

His district already has security measures in place. "In Wainscott, our doors are locked, and only people who are 'buzzed in' are permitted to enter; there is a camera and intercom. Visitors don't necessarily have to have an appointment, but there must be a reason for an individual's entry verified."

Within the East Hampton School District, Superintendent Rich Burns said, "We have very definite procedures in place. Those visiting the high school have to sign in at the Main Office (the doors from the lobby to the school are not open after school starts) and visitors to the Middle School have to be buzzed in, like they do at John Marshall. All other doors are locked, and we mean business. Student safety is our utmost concern."

Burns continued, "I will definitely have conversations with the building principals and the custodial staff to make sure that all of our safety precautions are being followed to the letter, but I believe we do an excellent job of keeping to the protocol."

School officials such as Springs School principal Eric Casale sent out emails to parents, who were, no doubt, thinking: Could this happen here?

"I will be meeting with our staff at the end of the school day along with local law enforcement to go over the situation and review all safety protocols as part of our emergency response procedures," Casale said. "I ask that all parents please continue to follow the measures for entering and exiting the building which includes registering with Brenda, our greeter when you come to the building for any business." He reminded parents to use the designated doors when they attend school functions.

At the Montauk School, superintendent Jack Perna said the incident will lead to a review of the school safety plan. "Our doors are locked, all visitors must sign in, no one allowed in unless we know where they are going," Perna said, adding that "all school personnel know it is 'not only their right but their responsibility' to question anyone in the building that they do not know."

Perna, as did Rachlin, said they will ask that the topic of student safety be discussed at their next school board meetings, in addition to the meetings with fellow superintendents.

It's a conversation that Town Police Chief Ed Ecker said he's sure to be having in the coming days with school administrators all over his jurisdiction, but he doesn't believe there's any cause for alarm on the South Fork. "There's no information to think something is going to happen here," he said.

Security at the five school districts in town are "tighter than they've ever been," Ecker said. There are many safety procedures in place, such as "checking in, locking doors and other protocols."

With the help of a school resource officer, "We discuss safety at all the schools pretty regularly," Ecker said, adding, "I think we're prepared."

Village Police Captain Mike Tracey, who heads up the townwide Emergency Services Unit with Town Police Lt. Chris Hatch, agrees. Not only do the 12 police officers on the unit train regularly (they trained in the former Stella Maris school building earlier this year), but they work to make sure school staff understand "what our expectations of them are and what our capabilities are."

Tracey said he reached out to the East Hampton School District (two of its schools are in the village jurisdiction) soon after word of the shooting reached him.

"I know the schools are undoubtedly going to get calls, probably not just from the media, but they are going to get calls and concerns from parents. If I didn't know any better, I'd be calling asking if they have plans in place for handling emergencies within the building," said Tracey, who is also a former school board member. "In fact, they do plan for acts of violence. They are required to under State Education Law, which is a good thing, so that people have roles and responsibilities designated in a variety of different situations."

Do you feel there are enough school safety measures in place in our area? Please leave your thoughts below.

katy hine December 14, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Ecker is ignorant to think he would have any warning, indicators or "information" before something like this happened.
Eastend50 December 14, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I have done work on occasion at the Wainscott School, and as mentioned above, you are required to state your business and are observed on closed circuit TV before even being allowed entry into the building. This is not to say that someone with intent enough will not find a way into the facility, but it gives a little extra time for the staff to notify law enforcement if they suspect a problem.
Drtee-Dancer December 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Hitting the nail on the head Katy - thank you - clean those boats.
ViralGrain December 14, 2012 at 10:32 PM
I think teachers and school administrators should arm them selves with pepper spray. In my opinion nothing is better for self defense then good pepper spray for many reasons. The gun issue in this country is out of control. Their are just to many in circulation for any law to any good in preventing the wrong people from having them. Pepper spray is non-lethal. Allot of them have uv ink that can not be washed off and does not require the pinpoint aim as a gun or produces the noise and flash that creates hesitation on most novis handlers. Also there is no risk of the dangers of stray bullets and are very effective in giving the victim the time needed for escape or to subdue the assailant. You can buy them online. I personally like this product line. I think the line of defense needs to be in place where the offense may occur. Not just down the hall or down the block or a phone call away. An once of prevention is worth more then a pound of cure. http://www.foxlabs.com/pepperspray.shtml
fatcat December 15, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Thank you "Ecker" and all your staff for the time put in training and preparing for the unthinkable. Is that what you meant to convey Ms Hind?
Gail Simons December 15, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I find the statements from the principals to be completely idiotic. The gunman in CT was not buzzed in. The doors were locked. He busted in and had his way. Do you really think locks and buzzers are going to protect our children from this type of violence??? The locks give me NO peace of mind.
Martha Nassauer December 15, 2012 at 05:58 PM
"There's no information to think something is going to happen here," says Ecker. Was there information indicating something was to happen in CT yesterday? I had no information indicating that a violent crime would be committed against me years ago. We need to accept that these situations can occur, and continue supporting the police, administrators, teachers, and all others involved, in their training in handling of these situations. It does not always matter how many safety measures we employ, or what people's feelings are concerning the adequacy of these measures. What matters is that we train those responsible for the welfare of others to think, act, and protect to the best of their ability. Evil always finds a way to do its bidding, we should not let our guard down...nor should we allow fear (of violence) to control us. To believe we are immune to violence, as suggested by Ecker, is unrealistic. To accept that these incidents are possible, and to learn how to defend ourselves and others should be our concern. I would attend and/or support educational lectures, classes/programs designed by our local authorities that address these matters.
MTS December 15, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Not true; the principal buzzed him. She recognized him as the son of a teacher who , unbeknowest to her, he had killed earlier at home.
Mike Kazickas December 15, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Not true MTS...as is being discovered Adam Lanza's mother Nancy was not a teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School so the principal would have had no reason to buzz him in. It is believed Lanza shot his way into the school
c. zelnick December 16, 2012 at 05:44 AM
I think its time to keep an armed guard at the main entrance of all schools . We protect are money at banks with guns why not are kids? . Guns being banned is not and will never happen , its always going to find its way it to the wrong hands. I know its sad but its the truth we need to protect are children .
Gail Simons December 16, 2012 at 11:07 AM
MTS, check your facts. You are wrong. The principal was in a meeting, she did not buzz him in. Additionally, even if she had buzzed him in - the fact that he had intentions of violence would, a buzzer would not have stopped him. Don't be stupid.
Eastend50 December 16, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I agree, at least one armed uniformed guard at each school depending on size. If people are turned off by this, use plainclothes guards. Little kids rely on adults to protect them. This time we failed.
ViralGrain December 16, 2012 at 04:52 PM
A armed guard as you mentioned may be a deterrent for some or just a target for others. Every good security systems has a multilateral approach in securing security. Teachers and administrators should be armed with pepper spray, and a panic button that each tacher should be mandate to have on them selves at all times like the one used on some LE radios to alert the proper authorities there is a incident in progress. Motorola Smartzone System is a provider of this type of Technology. We trust these teachers to teach our kids for the future, we should trust them with pepper spray and a panic botton.
pat December 16, 2012 at 06:49 PM
wow. all comments are talking around the armed elephant in the room. we need to: force gun show purchasers to undergo the same screening customers at gun shops do; ban the sale of automatic weapons and the sale of multiround ammo. We have permitted the sale of automatic weapons since 2004, and how many people have died? Guns do not make people safer. While we are at it, let's restore some funding for mental health, too.
Bonac Refugee December 16, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Val Please do a little research before you post. 1.Backround checks are required at gunshows in Conneticutt(and New York too for that matter). 2.Automatic weapons are illegal. 3.There is no such thing as multi round ammo.
Gail Simons December 17, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I think that people and attitudes and horribly violent video games are as much to blame for violence as anything. Children are being brought up "desensitized" to violence and guns and intolerance. Get rid of the shoot 'em up video games, censor the violent war news and teach a lot more kindness and love and tolerance & we will see less mass violence. The idea that children are mean to each other is generally accepted as an unfortunate fact. I believe that we can change that. I've seen the difference at CDCH, where children display kindness, tolerance and empathy towards each other & where bullying does not exist. If it can be successful there, it can be successful everywhere. With diligence, it can happen.
The Voice December 17, 2012 at 03:52 AM
I have read all the above comments and in my opinion can we just focus on being mindful of the incident victims. Lets take this opportunity to love on our children and family. Let our heart feel, our minds think and our souls ache for the families who are hurting. Today my family and I bought an angel to hang on the Christmas tree in memory of those who are no longer. It doesn't matter if I know all their names and ages but whats important is that we feel something for someone else simply because we are human.
MTS December 17, 2012 at 04:43 AM
To Gail Simons: When I wrote my comment , the information was given as such on the news and in print. You, obviously were more up to date. However, the tone of your answer was really not very nice and this is exactly what is wrong; I do not appreciate being accused of stupidity.
Martha Nassauer December 17, 2012 at 05:47 AM
@ "The Voice" I usually refrain from making absolute statements and try to be more moderate in the presentation of my message. When you say you have read "all" the above comments you are stating that ALL the comments disregard the same heartache that you are feeling. How awesome that you and your family memorialized the victims in such a special way! People handle these crisis situations in their own way. I fail to see how ALL the posters negated the same sentiments you expressed. I read sentiments of anger, hope, disgust, concern, love, curiosity, bewilderment, etc. The most significant feeling I gather from the posters above, even the defensive ones, have one thing in common. They all CARE!! They took the time out to write about their feelings. You, nor I, am the moderator of this message board. The author of this article concluded with a question to her readers, which perhaps you overlooked when posting: "Do you feel there are enough school safety measures in place in our area? Please leave your thoughts below." Posters were asked to give their opinions, so asking the topic of the forum question to be ignored is disrespectful to all of those folks who contributed here. If you are not pleased with the "focus" of the posters, then write your own article to share with others. You may be A VOICE, but you are not THE VOICE. It is not your duty or responsibility to change the forum topic, nor criticize others when they are on topic.
Martha Nassauer December 17, 2012 at 06:06 AM
Post Script: I applaud the author, Ms. Vescey, for writing an article that allows the reader to step away from the hopelessness of the situation for even a moment, in affording them an opportunity to be pro-active. This is the definition of community. Often, excellent ideas and/or solutions are derived from our painful experiences, so I believe this was another purpose of the question posed. Ms. Vescey opened a door for folks to step beyond the pain and vulnerability of a tragedy, and into a place of mindful exploration of solution based critique of our own neighborhood schools. Additional food for thought, I will reference Young's Literal Translation Matthew 6:4 regarding your act of memorializing: "that thy kindness may be in secret, and thy Father who is seeing in secret Himself shall reward thee manifestly." I am not here to judge your motivation for sharing your act with all of us, but I do find this biblical viewpoint relating to the aspect of kindness/giving to be a spiritual gem, defining humility and grace perfectly. To boast about our acts of kindness/giving almost negates the act itself, when we are seeking the approval and acceptance of others just to elevate ourselves. Peace.
Gail Simons December 17, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Then don't contradict someone unless you're sure of what you're contradicting.
Gail Simons December 17, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I have children in this school system - similar in ages to those murdered - I am very, very on edge about this topic right now. I appologize for any perceived aggression.
Gail Simons December 17, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Indeed!
MTS December 17, 2012 at 09:53 PM
To Gail Simons: I welcome your apology and do really understand your position. I was a teacher myself and I know full well that the situation was horrifying and horrific. Unfortunately though we try to protect our children in all possible ways from the evil and incomprehensible in this world, it exists. However, we should never stop trying. My best wishes for you and your family.

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