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Deasy pledges safety review of L.A. schools after Conn. shooting

December 17, 2012 |  4:01 pm

Los Angeles' top school official Monday pledged a strong response after the Connecticut shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and seven adults, plus the 20-year-old shooter.

Supt. John Deasy said that every individual school safety plan would be reviewed, a process that has already been launched. L.A. Unified has more than 1,000 schools. Deasy estimated that, so far, it appeared that fewer than 10 campuses lack a secure perimeter. Still, he said, additional measures would be undertaken to make campuses more secure.

Three school police officers from the Los Angeles Unified School District are part of a contingent that has gone to Connecticut to offer help and to learn from the tragedy, Deasy said.

FULL COVERAGE: Connecticut school shooting

The superintendent applauded a Los Angeles Police Department plan to send an officer for a random visit to every elementary and middle school once a day. High schools already have a full-time armed officer employed by the school system.

The schools chief called LAPD “the best city police department I have ever worked with as superintendent” and said he appreciated the “amazing and overwhelming deployment.”

For L.A. Unified to implement the high school level of coverage at every school could more than triple district security costs, Deasy said. Currently, the school police department has an annual budget of $52 million.

WHO THEY WERE: Connecticut school shooting victims

At a news conference, Deasy and L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck were challenged on whether a random daily visit could have prevented an incident similar to the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Beck acknowledged that the Connecticut school had strong security measures in place, “but they didn’t have a Los Angeles police there or this wouldn’t have occurred.” Effective law enforcement, Beck added, is about being “in the right place at the right time … and this gives us an opportunity.”

Deasy acknowledged that one goal was simply to build public confidence in the safety of schools. “It is an absolute effort to reassure the public,” Deasy said.

But how likely is it that an intruder would be confronted by a police officer during a random, once-a-day stop?

“It’s a heck of a lot better than if an LAPD officer is not assigned to the school,” Deasy replied.

School district officials said other police departments were pledging similar measures for L.A. Unified campuses within their jurisdictions.The nation's second-largest school system serves all or part of more than two dozen cities in L.A. County.

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: From left: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, schools Supt. John Deasy and Police Chief Charlie Beck discuss school security after the elementary school massacre in Connecticut. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

 

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