North Texas school districts reassure about safety plans



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Posted on December 14, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 14 at 7:36 PM

DALLAS -- In the wake of the Newtown elementary school shooting Friday, many North Texas school districts have been quick to reassure their communities that their schools are safe. In fact, the police chief for Dallas ISD called a news conference Friday afternoon.

DISD Chief Craig Miller said each school runs three lockdown drills during the school year.

"I can assure the parents that children who are in the Dallas Independent School District, that the administrators, the teachers on the campuses are taught lockdown procedures and what they entail,” Miller said.

Miller said the heaviest security measures, like metal detectors and stationed officers, are reserved for middle and high schools, not elementary schools.

"It's preventable, 100 percent, yes,” said Avi, an Israeli security expert who consults with schools. He doesn't use his last name for safety reasons.

He said American teachers, parents and students need in-depth lessons on how to spot suspicious behavior patterns.

"No killer is putting on a t-shirt saying, 'I'm a killer,'" Avi said. "You need to learn to see his face. His eyes. His walk."

Chief Miller said DISD, though it trains for active shooter events, does not teach behavior identification.

"It's not necessarily training that the police department does," Miller said. "We're all, in society, more cognizant of somebody that looks suspicious, packages that are left behind, people who ask questions that don't make sense with what we're doing."

In the event of an emergency, districts have various ways to communicate with families. Fort Worth, for example, has a robo-call system with the ability to send text messages and e-mails.

There are also smart phone apps, like School Connect, which Dallas, Ennis, Irving, and Midlothian use. In addition to finding out about homework and lunch schedules, it also sends notifications of campus emergencies.