Mayor, city leaders discuss school safety

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SAN DIEGO – Mayor Bob Filner met with leaders in education, law enforcement and mental health to discuss school safety Monday.

“Since Friday, there’s an increased presence of San Diego police in and around schools,” said San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne. “To make sure everyone feels safe without raising the level of fear with the students.”

Mayor Convenes School Safety MeetingSan Diego Unified School District Chief of Police Rueben Littlejohn talked about a conversation he had with law enforcement in Newtown, Connecticut who use the same emergency preparedness system used in San Diego.

“We’ve been in contact with officers in Connecticut, those on the ground and we recognize now that plans we have, worked in that school,” he said. “More lives would have been lost had those plan not been in place. We have those same plans in place here.”

San Diego is home to 42 school districts, 747 schools, 26,000 teachers and nearly 500,000 students. Each district has its own safety plan that is updated every year and includes a plan for shootings.

“How do we move quickly to make sure students are safe in a lockdown situation, notification of law enforcement and the parents?” said Don Buchheit, director of student support for the San Diego Office of Education.

Buchheit’s office advised San Diego’s school districts about policy. He said the county is constantly looking for ways to improve safety on school campuses.

He admits the tragedy could happen in San Diego, but they are always questioning what they could be doing better.

“Should we change something? Are we forgetting something? Are we overlooking anything?” he questioned.

Filner is two weeks into his administration is committed to public safety. He plans to fund a new communication system connecting law enforcement agencies in San Diego.

“It won’t be very long before we have real time, live streaming video directly from the schools into a police car. So when we respond, the school police will be better able to protect the community,” he said.

More importantly, they will be able to stop a potentially violent person before they ever get the chance to take innocent lives.

“Since 2008, we’ve seen an almost 53 percent increase in calls for service to the San Diego Police Department for persons in crisis,” said assistant police chief Boyd Long. “We intend to change that, but we need the public’s help.”

A 24-hour crisis hotline 888-724-7240 is available to the public to report someone they sense is acting in a suspicious manner.

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