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Extra precautions taken around some Missouri schools

Monday, December 17, 2012 | 5:10 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — Extra police were patrolling some Missouri schools Monday, an added precaution in the wake of the shooting at Newtown, Conn.

Police in both St. Louis city and county were being extra vigilant around schools. St. Louis County Police spokesman Randy Vaughn said police captains and other supervisors were joining patrol officers in targeting areas around schools. Resource officers who normally focus on high schools were working to ensure safety at elementary schools. Some schools had officers inside at the request of administrators.

"Beat patrol officers are making first priority the elementary schools, not only to ward off any problems, but to ease the minds of parents and school personnel that might still be feeling uncomfortable," Vaughn said.

That unease is understandable after Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed.

St. Louis Police spokesman David Marzullo said city police already keep a close eye on schools.

"We did ask the patrol officers for even closer patrol," he said.

Smaller communities were taking precautions, too. In Sedalia, patrols are being beefed up at least through the week, police commander Matt Wirt told the Sedalia Democrat.

"This isn't just a knee-jerk reaction to Friday's shooting in Connecticut," Wirt said. "We know people feel uncomfortable right now, and we want them to know we're here."

Kansas City school district spokesman Andre Riley said frequent patrols, in-building security and school resource officers were already in place.

"A lot of these things we already have due to the challenges of being a school district in an urban area," Riley said. "We always take security very seriously. We're being even more watchful, more vigilant. We're just keeping our eyes open and encouraging our community to do the same."

Vaughn said St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch is trying to organize a meeting with school leaders later this week to discuss the future of school safety.

One idea Fitch is floating: Arming civilian school workers.

"Pilots have been armed now for many, many years," Fitch told KMOX Radio. "We've not had another hijacking and the issue is, for the bad guy, he doesn't know which airplane he's getting on, if the pilot is armed or not."

St. Louis County police had a brief scare Monday morning when a trespasser was reported on the roof of Bayless High School. Vaughn said it was an unarmed woman who was threatening suicide. Her name and age were not released. Vaughn said the woman never threatened to hurt anyone other than herself.

 


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