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Police Increase School Patrols in Wake of Conn. Shootings

Officers from Los Alamitos and Seal Beach Police Departments and the Orange County Sheriff's Department stepped up appearances at local campuses Friday.

Authorities have increased their patrol presence at local schools in the aftermath of Friday's Connecticut school shooting that took 28 lives.

At the Los Alamitos Unified School District facilities, officers from Los Alamitos and Seal Beach Police Departments were present on nearby campuses to reassure parents and students, according to Superintendent Sherri Kropp.

Kropp said that there was no danger or any threat, but district officials wanted "give a show of support and concern" for local families.

After she learned of the shooting -- which she called "unspeakable" --  Kropp said she reached out to law enforcement if they "would have a presence at our schools." 

She also sent out an email to district family and staff informing them of the tragedy, and telling them that counselors were standing by if anyone need to talk.

Kropp said school administrators, staff and teachers were "deeply saddened" by the events in Newtown. 

She said the district is passionate about protecting students and preventing future violence, so much that they created a school Violence Prevention and Response Task Force earlier this year.

"We are prepared," Kropp said."You have to stay vigilant."

Kropp added that, even before the shooting, the District Board of Trustees was considering adding more security cameras to local schools.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department is also beefing up its presence throughout Orange County. 

“While the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut appear to be isolated, deputies will have an increased presence at local schools,” said Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and all affected by this tragedy.”

Hutchens released a statement Friday afternoon assuring parents and students that the department has programs in place to prevent and respond to similar attacks.

“The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has a sophisticated, integrated response plan to act quickly and protect citizens in the event of a local emergency. The department’s highly-trained specialty units include a Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Mobile Field Force, School Resource Officers (SROs), and School Mobile Assessment Resource Team (SMART),” she wrote.

“The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has a strong, collaborative relationship with local schools. Deputy Sheriffs, known as School Resource Officers (SROs), are on the campus of many schools on a daily basis. SROs work in partnership with school administrators on ongoing student trends, problems at schools and efforts to provide appropriate services to students and school administrators.”

She also touted the department’s School Mobile Assessment Resource Team (SMART) that works with school officials to resolve threats or safety issues and is used in instances of school violence, threats, possession or use of weapons, unstable behaviors and suicidal actions.

“We encourage the community to be vigilant and partner with us to report suspicious activity by calling the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (714) 647-7000 or (949) 770-6011,” she added. “If you have a tip to report and wish to remain anonymous, call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS (847-6227).”

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