Lorenzo Smith, director of security at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. checks the doors of the school. Many private and public schools have tightened security following shootings at a Connecticut school.
After December shootings at a Portland-area shopping mall and a grade school in Connecticut, officials at Catholic schools in Oregon have been reviewing security measures.
St. John the Baptist School in Milwaukie is only a few miles from Clackamas Town Center, where a shooter killed two and injured one Dec. 11. That was three days before gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
"It's given us a wakeup call," says Ted Havens, principal of St. John the Baptist. The school now locks all of its doors all day and has tripled its security cameras. A retired police officer visited to go over lockdown drills. Havens may overhaul the PA system.
"Anything we can do to keep this from happening," Havens says.
Jesuit High School, already patrolled by two security guards, has added a third. The Southwest Portland school has emphasized visitor check-in policy and has upgraded walkie-talkies in place for emergencies. Workers added security screening to windows. A Beaverton Police officer attends home sporting events and now has an office on campus. He'll be helping with security drills.
"The best way to keep students safe is by having strong relationships among students and adults, so that students will report to their parents, teachers, or counselors when they see suspicious activity or feel they have reason to worry," said a letter to Jesuit parents from Paul Hogan, the principal.
Holy Cross School in North Portland now keeps even the front doors locked at all hours, a move made by many other schools in the region. A security expert walked through Holy Cross and made suggestions, and faculty have reviewed an emergency protocol. Monthly lockdown drills are in place.
"The staff wanted to reassure all of you that we continue to be vigilant regarding the safety of your children," said a letter to parents from Julie Johnson, Holy Cross principal.