Barrington police cars were parked outside all of the schools Monday morning when they opened simply to indicate a “police presence.”
“There have been no threats made,” said Barrington Police Chief John LaCross.
“We have posted our police cars at all the schools as a sign of our support and partnership with the school staff and the children of our community,” LaCross said.
Indeed, at all the schools this week until the holiday break, he said, “We will create more of a presence.”
“Although we are always there to respond, it is important that our community knows that, as first responders, we too feel the sadness of this horrific tragedy and hopefully a visible presence will help calm any uneasiness among the staff, parents and children.”
LaCross said he will be meeting Monday afternoon or Tuesday with School Superintendent Michael Messore and Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. to go over the guidelines that are already used to safeguard schools.
“We are already on the same page with school administrators,” LaCross said. “They have a training manual that has been put together with the help of the State Police.”
At the same time, he said, police go through extensive training in the schools to respond to situations like that in Newtown, Conn.
Training in several classrooms at the high school, for instance, involved the recreation as accurately as possible of situations like this, he said, including the use of “simulated bullets, strobe lights, fog machines and sirens, actors yelling and screaming, and active shooter training.”
“You can never train enough,” LaCross said.
In Barrington, police officers can respond to any school within one to three minutes, he said.
The emergency procedures and lockdown used in Newtown probably saved hundreds of other lives, LaCross said, even though from all the reports he has heard so far the school teachers and administrators “did all they could and they weren’t able to prevent this tragedy.”
Is there an answer? LaCross said he has always pushed for armed school resource officers in schools.
“They should be armed,” he said. “We are there to protect them” in addition to keeping the peace in schools.
“This bridges the gap between us and them,” he said. “A school resource officer should have a radio, a sidearm and handcuffs.”
He did say, though, that SROs generally are assigned only to middle or high schools, not elementary schools.