Responding to last week’s massacre of students at a Connecticut elementary school, police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday every Los Angeles Unified elementary and middle school will have daily visits from LAPD officers when classes resume in January.
Beck said at least one police officer would make at least one stop daily at every elementary and middle school in the LAUSD – nearly 600 campuses in total. He also offered the department’s assistance to charter and private schools that request added security.
Beck called the move a “significant, significant” redeployment effort.
The officers will make the stops part of their routine patrol, Beck said, adding that “nobody will ever know when. You won’t know whether they are in uniform or plain clothes.”
Asked why the department has not deployed to schools on a daily basis until now, Beck said, “we try to deploy resources where they are needed. There wasn’t any obvious connection to our elementary schools before this, but as I said, once barriers are breached, they will be easily re-broken.”
Beck acknowledged that the redeployment of officers to L.A. schools will have a cost.
“There is a cost, (the officers) won’t be doing something else, but I challenge anybody to say this is not worth doing right now,” he said.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said he welcomed the expanded security.
“It is an absolute effort to reassure the public,” he said.
Pressed on how much difference the addition of one officer at a school would make, Deasy said the odds that an LAPD officer would be present when a shooter enters the school are “a heck of a lot better (than) if there’s not an LAPD officer assigned to the school.”
He said the Los Angeles School Police Department would require a tripling of its budget to provide the level of added security being offered by the LAPD.
School Police Department Chief Steve Zipperman said the presence of LAPD officers on LAUSD campuses would “augment already robust deployment” across the schools.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and other local law enforcement agencies will also lend deputies and officers to police LAUSD schools.
Meanwhile, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that he was accelerating his annual gun-buyback program, which will now be held the day after Christmas instead of next May.
Villaraigosa said the city is “heartbroken and horrified” by the tragedy and that the time to act to prevent a tragedy in Los Angeles is now.
“Too often in the wake of a tragedy like this, we’re told it’s too soon to talk about solutions,” Villaraigosa said. “Too often we wake up with another headline that reminds us we are too late.”
The buyback program offers people gift cards in return for surrendering firearms – no questions asked.
Villaraigosa also said he supported Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s stated goal to introduce a ban on the sales of assault weapons. A Clinton-era ban expired in 2004 and has not been renewed.
“No single piece of legislation will solve all of our problems, but the assault weapons ban is a powerful first step,” Villaraigosa said.