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Column: Police, schools work together to focus on emergency strategies

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This has been a difficult time for many people as a result of the unimaginable attack in Newton, Conn. When tragedies occur, everyone needs to take time to re-evaluate strategies, plans and responses. Our community is doing that.

This week, Mayor Brown and Dr. John Quick, superintendent of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., met with the leadership teams from the Columbus Police Department and the school corporation and we will continue to meet as a unified team to review needs and concerns. Our current emergency response plans focus on communication, mitigation techniques and response strategies.

The school corporation has an open line of communication with local law enforcement, including the Columbus Police Department, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, and the local Emergency Management Agency.

The flow of information takes place on a daily, if not hourly, basis between the schools and government. Monthly meetings have been in place for two decades. Any information that threatens student safety becomes an immediate priority.

Mitigation strategies include a detailed emergency response plan, which was developed by BCSC. This includes controlled access points at schools, emergency drills, floor plan exchanges, law enforcement training, etc. CPD officers regularly patrol schools during the day, and we have increased our patrols in the past few days. All these measures help reduce the likeliness of a tragic event.

A practiced response plan is also necessary for any type of emergency. The Columbus Police Department conducts ongoing, realistic and extensive training for active shooter scenarios. We partner with BCSC to utilize their facilities, students and staff to make the training realistic. CPD officers are well trained and equipped to respond to any emergency at a moment’s notice, including a mass shooting incident. A comprehensive public safety audit ordered by Mayor Kristen Brown earlier this year confirmed that information.

The safety of students and families in the community is our highest priority. The excellent partnership between schools and government help facilitate that goal. We will continue our hard work to make schools a safe place for education and social activities.

Larry Perkinson is the student assistance coordinator for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation and Jason Maddix is chief of the Columbus Police Department.

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