LAPD Boosts School Patrols After Connecticut Shooting

Connecticut State Police walk near the scene of an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. | Photo by Douglas Healey/Getty Images

In the wake of a shooting that left 27 people -- including 20 children and the gunman -- dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the Los Angeles Police Department beefed up patrols around city schools today and coordinated security efforts with school police.

"There is no indication of a connection with Los Angeles," LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said. "We train with and work with school police on an ongoing basis, and we will be providing extra patrols around schools -- especially elementary schools -- today."

Smith said additional officers will also be available when students return to schools in January from winter breaks.

Among the dead at the elementary school in Connecticut were 20 children and six adults. The gunman was also found dead in the school.

"When we see incidents like this, it just seems like they are an evil person," Smith said. "To do this to children? What kind of a monster does this to children?"

Los Angeles Unified School District officials assured parents that the safety of students and parents is the district's "number one priority."

LAUSD School Police Chief Chief Steve Zipperman said the increased personnel was not in response to any local threat, but to increase visibility and police presence to reduce any fear or anxiety possibly being felt throughout the community as a result of today's shooting.

"On a daily basis, the Los Angeles Unified School Police Department deploys over 200 police officers throughout the district on campus and safe passages patrol," Zipperman said, adding that all officers trained with local law enforcement partners to respond to active shooter situations.

"Every campus within the LAUSD has a school safety plan in place," Zipperman said. "These plans include responding to incidents where students and staff may be in danger of injury."

In Los Angeles, a vigil in memory of the victims, sponsored by Project Islamic HOPE, is expected to begin at 5 p.m. in Leimert Park at 3415 W. 43rd Place.

LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said police officers train on an ongoing basis regarding "an active shooter situation at a school or other venue like a shopping center."

"Since the Columbine High School shooting, law enforcement has generally adopted the tactic of an immediate entry to the school to confront an active shooter," Vernon said.

Vernon urged people to watch for "warning signs" of possible impending violence. "One thing the public can do to help guard against these incidents is to be alert to warning signs of (a) person's behavior that might lead to this kind of (violent) response," Vernon said. "After-action studies of shootings often reveal that signs of depression, anger, planning, bragging, (or) threatening were ignored."

Vernon also urged people to "hug your kids and loved ones today when you see them next."

"These tragic incidents can happen anywhere at any time," Vernon said.

"Help your kids put these incidents in perspective so they don't become overwhelmed," Vernon said. "Our kids tend to adopt our own response and reaction to such incidents."

KCET's news magazine "SoCal Connected" is following developments and will have special coverage tonight at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

This story has been updated since it was originally posted.

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