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12/17/2012 10:42:03 AMDPD Responds to School Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

As a Police Chief, a father and soon to be grandfather, I am shocked and saddened by the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14, 2012. All of us collectively struggle with understanding how something so unimaginable like this could ever happen. It is only natural at moments like this, that community leaders and parents wonder about the safety of their own children and students in their communities.

In response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, I reached out to the DeKalb County School Police Chief Jeanette James to discuss her department’s response to this tragedy and to develop an appropriate response for our department for the schools in Dunwoody.

Chief James plans to have her staff conduct directed patrols and drop ins at the schools where they do not have an officer assigned, which are most of the elementary schools. To supplement their response, the Dunwoody Police Department is assigning staff and bringing officers in who are off duty to provide high visibility patrols in and around all of the public schools in Dunwoody. These high visibility patrols will continue through the end of this week.

Particularly in the elementary schools, DeKalb County requires visitors to be buzzed in and also sign in. I have experienced this fact myself each time I have visited one of our elementary schools. Each school also has a Safe School Plan in place and they maintain an Emergency Response Booklet. This booklet describes emergency procedures for various natural disasters and man-made threats.

The police officers who responded to Sandy Hook Elementary School immediately made entry into the school to engage the suspect who was still actively shooting children. It appears the suspect saw or heard the officers coming and stopped killing children and took his own life. There is no doubt the fast action of the police officers saved lives. Officers with the Dunwoody Police Department are also trained to enter and engage an active shooter in like fashion should we face a similar situation.

As the details of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are unfolding, it is important to remember that overall, the children in Dunwoody are safe while they are in our schools. It may not feel that way today. It may be difficult to feel that way in the near future. The fact is, a senseless act such as this alters our view of school security and reminds us how important it is to be forever vigilant to keep our children safe.

Although the primary responsibility for school safety in Dunwoody falls upon the DeKalb County School System and the DeKalb County School Police, the Dunwoody Police Department will continue to work closely with them to make sure students in Dunwoody are as safe and free from violence as possible.

Billy Grogan
Chief of Police

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