Recent school shootings necessitate local vigilance and preparation |

Recent school shootings necessitate local vigilance and preparation

It is difficult, these days, to find a balance between heightened awareness of random violence and trusting that our families are safe. These past two weeks have been especially difficult for school officials as they try to prepare for the worst, without frightening their charges.

With three school shootings around the country in one month, and several other close calls, local newscasts have become as violent as the movies that many parents normally won’t allow their children to see and the questions those young viewers have been asking are painful to hear. Suffice it to say, students are keenly aware of the possibility of random violence to at their own schools.

It is, therefore, appropriate that several local schools have invited law enforcement officials to conduct practice drills on their campuses. Nevertheless, the practice drill at Park City High School Wednesday morning was chillingly realistic.

According to officials who conducted the mock emergency — that came complete with gun-toting SWAT team officers and police dogs — teachers were notified in advance of the drill. Students learned of the impending exercise only minutes beforehand. Hopefully, their teachers were sensitive enough to individual students’ level of fear to avert any potential for panic.

The Park City High School administration is to be commended for asking the police and sheriff’s departments to practice for the kind of tragedy this community hopes never to endure. It is important for parents and students to know that their caretakers are prepared to protect them. It is also reassuring to see that local officers are familiar with the layout of the schools and have clear procedures for dealing with an intruder.

In the days ahead, community members should consider themselves active participants in the effort to guard local schools. That can only be accomplished by closely watching and listening to the students and by cooperating with school rules about signing in and out of their facilities.

Seeing armed police move into Park City High School with guns drawn was alarming, but it is impossible to imagine what the parents of students in Wisconsin, Colorado and Pennsylvania felt when they saw the police at their children’s schools. There is a small measure of comfort in knowing, however, while most residents firmly believe it could never happen here, that lawmen and school officials are prepared.

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