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Security Gets a Boost Throughout LA Unified Schools

Jessica P. Ogilvie | November 5, 2013

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images-3LA Unified campuses are safer this year with increased security efforts that reflect concerns over school violence, particularly shooters that might make their way on to campus.

The district this year has implemented new training and new policies, with an increased number of safety personnel at elementary schools and other campuses.

Steve Zipperman, the district’s chief of school police, told LA School Report increased security is a consequence of incidents on campuses across the country, including the shootings last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Any time we have a tragic incident,” he said, “we take a look at what has occurred and what we have in place and make a determination, what we need to update, what we need to change, what we need to implement that’s not in place.”

To help fund new security efforts, the district security budget was increased this year by $4 million. That is helping support one of the biggest changes, more security for elementary schools, where 1,000 campus aides have been added, about two per school. Their duties primarily consist of helping implement security procedures that are already in place.

“Campus aides will be involved with things such as being at the entrance gates and checking out any security concerns that may necessitate an administrator to be notified, or even school police to be notified,” Zipperman said.

In another change, all LA Unified principals were retrained on lockdown procedures over the summer as well as on policies and procedures regarding how to handle a shooter on campus.

At secondary schools, random searches will continue to be conducted daily by school personnel, using a handheld wand. And at all schools, parents are being involved in updating safe school plans.

According to Zipperman, campus safety officers have also continued their partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

“We have conducted a training base together, involving active shooters response as it pertains to law enforcement agencies,” he said. “And we continue to take a look at the site assessment at each of our schools.”

Zipperman said the efforts have been productive so far: Campus security has been more effective in communicating “at a district-wide level” and in tracking threat assessments.

“There’s been a reduction in campus-related crime,” he said, “and I think there’s been an increase in safety awareness.”

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