MUSD Prepares For Emergency Situations

The district is expected to pass a new Search and Seizure policy.

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

Like people across the country, parents, teachers and students in the Montebello Unified School District were shocked by the tragic news that a gunman had shot and killed 20 students and 6 adults at a Connecticut elementary school last Friday.

Hoping to reassure parents and students in the District that they are safe, Assistant Superintendent Michael G. Cobarrubias on Tuesday told EGP that MUSD last Friday informed parents via a phone messaging system about the breaking news and  let them know that district police officers were patrolling school campuses.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Distrito Escolar de Montebello Se Prepara Para Emergencias

While there was no evidence of a local threat, as an added precaution, a crisis intervention team was quickly put together to assist school counselors and psychologists help students and staff who might be feeling concerned or emotional about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

MUSD Chief of Police Linh Dihn told EGP that every school in the district has a comprehensive emergency plan that includes a response protocol for an active shooter. Although recent legislation does not require schools to divulge the exact details of their plans, Dihn did say school staff has been trained and some of MUSD’s police officers have received SWAT training.

School police work closely with local police agencies to prepare for such emergencies, Dihn said.

Cobarrubias said that the district has conducted drills on how to respond to potential emergency situations like lock downs, fires and earthquakes.

“Schools are probably the safest place a child can be,” Dihn said. “They have extra eyes looking after them.”

According to Dihn, the district has 45 campus officers patrolling the schools as well as 15 to 20 additional officers who were brought in this week to patrol elementary schools throughout the district. Dihn told EGP that officers would continue to be stationed at the campuses after the winter break.

Local police agencies like the Montebello Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department were very supportive after the tragic news broke last week, Cobarrubias said.

The Sandy Hill shooting has also raised questions about how to identify and deal with students who are exhibiting emotional or psychological problems.

MUSD has been working on the issue for some time, and two years ago, the district put together a suicide prevention protocol procedure to help identify individuals who may cause harm to themselves or others.

“Many issues of violence are a result of a person with a mental health issue,” Cobarrubias said. “I think [the protocol] has helped minimize the chances of this happening in our district.”

Staff and officers were trained to look for signs and report troubled behavior by students. Those who were reported would be referred for a risk assessment and assigned to a psychologist or counselors if needed.

Parents are also asked to report anything unusual or any rumors describing potential harm to students to the campus police or school administration so they can investigate the matter, Cobarrubias said.

With funding from U.S Department of Justice Campus Oriented Policing Services grants, MUSD has purchased metal detectors, cameras and updated communication devices.

The funding was also used to develop the new Search and Seizure policy that was presented at a school board meeting last month. The policy presentation also included information about the use of metal detectors and how K-9 units would be used on campuses to help sniff out narcotics and gunpowder residue.

“Rest assured that keeping kids safe is our priority,” Cobarrubias said.

The school board was expected to approve the new Search and Seizure policy at it’s meeting held last night after press time.

For more information about the mental health services offered by MUSD, call Michael G. Cobarrubias at (323) 887-7900 ext. 2275. For any safety concerns regarding the school district, contact MUSD’s Police Department at (323) 887-7916.

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December 20, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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