Stanislaus County Sheriff Les Weidman and Stanislaus County Office of Education Superintendent Martin Petersen met with several local school district superintendents to increase communication and establish a uniform protocol for all schools in response to heightened national threat levels and any potential terrorist attacks.
“While we have heard of no specific threats locally, we´re dusting off safe school plans and making sure our children are safe at school in the event of another September 11th incident,” said Sheriff Weidman. “We know that children are deeply affected by tragic events even if they don´t happen in our own backyard.”
The meeting was part of on-going discussions between law enforcement and school district personnel on the topics of school safety and critical incident response. “We are dedicated to taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure the safety of our youth,” said Petersen. “In collaboration with the Sheriff´s Office, we are working with school districts to establish protocol in the event of a terrorist attack or school crisis situation.”
For the last few years, the Sheriff´s Department has conducted crisis simulations at many Stanislaus County schools. This is a way for the Sheriff´s critical incident teams to practice a hands-on response to a school incident and learn the layout of the campus. It also serves as training for the school site administrators to learn what they can do to be better prepared.
“These simulations are an outstanding opportunity for law enforcement and school personnel to work together in preparation for any school crisis,” said Petersen. “Putting a safety plan into action is the best way to find weak areas and develop corrective measures.”
Sheriff Weidman mentioned a recent situation at Riverbank High School where a mother called 911 to report that her teenage son had a loaded gun and was on his way to the school to shoot people. A crisis was avoided when deputies got to the house and arrested the teen before he made it to school. The school was ready nevertheless. “As soon as she got the call, Principal Michelle Cole put the school on lockdown and kept a constant line of communication open with law enforcement officials,” said Weidman. “Training and cooperation between the schools and law enforcement is imperative to diffusing potentially dangerous situations such as this.”
For information on this news release, contact Sheriff´s Department spokesman Tom Letras at (209) 525-7045. For information from the Stanislaus County Office of Education, contact Public Information Specialist Cynthia Fenech at (209) 525-5139.