Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said on Sunday he’s putting into place a plan that would assign officers to patrol daily the 740 kindergarten, elementary and middle schools in the LA Unified School District.
Beck said the changes, which are expected to start when classes begin after winter break on Jan. 7, were in reaction to Friday’s massacre that left 26 people dead -- including 20 first graders -- at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. by a 20-year-old man who took his own life.
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"I'm going to use all 10,000 LA police officers to make sure every K-5, every middle school in LA gets visited at least once a day by an LA police officer," Beck said, after a graduation for 450 LAPD cadets at USC’s Galen Center.
“I think it’s important that at this particular time we’re able to get everybody [to] feel good about schools, that they can feel safe at schools and so that’s my job and we’ll make sure that it happens.”
He said officers and detectives will be assigned or will “adopt” a school and make beat checks part of their routine patrols.
Beck said officers will be expected to be a strong presence at the schools and develop contacts with school staff, teachers and parents.
“The hope is that every officer will adopt a school,” Beck said. “Staff will recognize them, know them, build a relationship.”
Beck, who said he would announce further details on Monday, said he has been talking with LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and schools police Chief Steven K. Zipperman about the logistics.
Deasy declined to talk on Sunday, saying further details would be announced Monday.
Beck said that he will work out the logistics and training needed for the effort in the next 22 days until the LAUSD schools reopen after the winter break. The plan could be extended to private schools if administrators at those campuses are willing, Beck said.
Police already have a robust plan for security at high schools, Beck said. This plan would work to strengthen security at schools at levels below high schools, areas Beck said need stronger security.
“It’s very important we stretch ourselves a little bit and work toward elementary and middle schools as well,” he said.
The announcement comes in the wake of enhanced security on Friday at many Southern California schools as a precaution against any possibility of copycats in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.