LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced a new program Monday to increase security at more than 600 L.A. schools in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Beck said officers would now be visiting elementary and middle schools daily, in addition to the high schools they already patrol, as part of their routine patrol.
The police chief told CBS2/KCAL9’s Dave Lopez, “They won’t be there the whole time, Dave, but they will be there, and they will make it part of their routine patrol…In some cases, they’ll be there for long term and, in some cases, shorter – but nobody will ever know when. And you won’t know whether they’re in uniform or plain clothes.”
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy encouraged people to be vigilant.
“The best opportunity to stop something is, if you know it, to say something about it; if you see it, to share it with the adults on the campus.”
Beck said people needed to take personal responsibility for their safety and not just leave it up to police.
“It’s my responsibility, but it’s everybody’s business. All of us working together can keep each other safe. If you leave it up to the police, you won’t be safe. You have to be in charge of your own safety. Now, we will do the heavy lifting and we will help with direction, but all of us have to watch out for each other.”
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa echoed concerns from California lawmakers calling for gun reform.
“No single piece of legislation will solve all of our problems but the assault-weapons ban is a powerful step.”
The L.A. mayor also announced that the gun buyback program will be moved up by nearly 6 months, from May 2013 to Dec. 26, 2012. CBS2/KCAL9 partners with the LAPD to promote the event, which is held in locations across Southern California. The public can turn in their guns in exchange for cash or gift cards, no questions asked.
Beck said, “Are we a city that values guns over our children? No. We are a city that values children as our most precious resource.”
Orange County officials also addressed school security Monday in a meeting with parents.
Santa Ana police said they will add extra officers to schools, as needed, and would review lockdown procedures.
The police department also sent two officers to Newtown, Conn., “to see what we can bring back, in terms of pieces of information, as we re-examine our protocols,” said Chief of Santa Ana School Police David Valentin.
The LAUSD and LAPD have also sent officers to Newtown to learn from the tragedy.
Police said keeping children safe off-campus is just as important, especially after a gang member shot and injured a tenth grader near Santa Ana High School.
“The idea is to overlap presence at the various schools throughout the district,” Valentin said.
Students at Sierra Preparatory Academy, in Santa Ana, said they feel for the students in Newtown, but that they won’t live in fear.
“Today it was just a normal school day. And we just hope that it doesn’t happen anymore,” said sixth grader Denise Resendiz.
Many students said their parents were concerned about letting them go back to school.
“They just told me to be careful because they know some people could do stuff to us,” one sixth grader said.