James Arrowood, the director of public safety in Cobb, reached out to local police departments Friday afternoon asking for “extra police and duty presence at all Cobb County Schools next week.”
“This request is due to the tragic elementary school shooting in Connecticut (Friday),” he wrote in a mass email to Cobb police chiefs. “Many parents are extremely upset and apprehensive, which is to be expected with such an event.”
Arrowood went on to advise the local departments that Cobb Schools will be in session Monday through Thursday, then will be out for the Christmas break until Jan. 8.
“Your assistance and visibility would be greatly appreciated and go a long ways in easing fears,” he said.
Cobb spokesman Jay Dillon also sent out an email to principals Friday, advising them that they may be “inundated with phone calls from concerned parents asking what security measures we have in place in our schools.”
“In Cobb, we are fortunate to have superb security resources, including police officers in every middle school and high school, surveillance cameras throughout all school buildings and electronic access control for elementary schools,” the email states.
Dillon went on to say that these resources go “a long way toward maintaining a safe learning environment for our students, but as you are well aware, no security measure available can protect against every conceivable threat.”
“It is important that we reassure parents that the safety of their children is our highest priority, and that we will be vigilant and use the resources we have available to ensure that students stay safe under our watch,” he states in the email.
“If you encounter any parents who are simply inconsolable, then our Public Safety Department is available to speak with them about the security measures we have in place. Hopefully this information will be useful as you deal with the inquiries that are sure to come.”
Dayton Hibbs, Marietta City Schools’ associate superintendent, said they too have comprehensive safety plans in place, ranging from a weather issue to a student falling ill, to school lockdown.
“If a person has this level of intent, and are intent on harming people, I’m not sure there’s a specific plan that can be 100 percent preventative of a situation of this magnitude,” he said. “I’m sure districts across the nation will reflect upon their protocol. We’ll use this as a learning tool. (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) will perhaps provide districts with some guidance as details are learned about this horrific situation.”
Hibbs continued by saying that like Cobb Schools, Marietta City Schools wants parents to know that student safety is their No. 1 priority, even before learning.
“Our business is educating student outstanding, but safety absolutely comes first,” he said. “We take it extremely seriously and do everything in our ability to protect our community’s children.”
Marietta City spokesman Thomas Algarin also said any visitor in Marietta is required to report at the school’s front office and must prevent an ID card at the elementary level.
“They scan it and check the database,” he said. “That protocol has been in place for awhile.”
As far as school access, they have keyless entry at the secondary entrances and keep them locked. The front doors are open with video surveillance, and the front office staff is always monitoring with video surveillance as well.
There is no campus police at elementary schools.
Marietta City will be in school Monday through Friday next week then break for the holiday until Jan. 7.
In response to the shootings, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews has also ordered that the U.S. flags within the city limits be flow at half-mast until sunset Tuesday.