The Norman Transcript

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December 15, 2012

Massacre makes local officials take hard look at emergency readiness

NORMAN — In the aftermath of a Connecticut elementary school shooting Friday morning that killed 26, including 20 children and six adults, many Norman residents are left asking: Could it happen here?

Norman Public Schools Superintendent Joe Siano said a tragedy like this is felt by parents and educators everywhere as their “worst nightmare.” Though district-wide safety and security is already a high priority, Siano said such events offer a moment of reflection.

“Certainly, in light of today’s events, we will take the time to review our current procedures with our staff,” Siano said Friday afternoon. “We have messaged our families to remind them of schools’ crisis planning, and informed them that school counselors are available to their children if they believe their children would benefit from their counsel.”

The district and each school site have crisis plans in place, including conducting yearly lockdown drills for both teachers and students. With the recent bond issue, Siano said security entrances have been added to 10 of the 12 schools, with security entrance construction pending for the last two sites.

Siano said every district principal has received active shooter training by the Norman Police Department this year.

In case of an emergency, Siano said the district also has a push notification system to communicate with parents and direct them on how to proceed.

“There’s no perfect way to deal with this type of tragedy but awareness, communication — those are all keys and certainly when a situation like this occurs, like any district, we reflect back on our procedures and where we could tighten those and get better,” he said.

For questions or concerns about district emergency policy contact the district at 405-364-1339.

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If such an event were to happen locally, Norman Police Department Capt. Tom Easley said city officers have been trained to handle active shooters. Easley said police would handle the situation by detaining the shooter, asking for assistance from a SWAT team if necessary, and organizing a staging area for parents to be reunited with their children.

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