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Police at Franklin Regional schools to reassure public after Newtown shooting

| Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, 1:06 p.m.

Murrysville police are working with Franklin Regional officials to make students and parents feel safe at all five schools in the wake of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

A police car was at each building Monday morning when students arrived, said Chief Tom Seefeld. Additional patrols will be around the school all week, Seefeld said, working with Officer William “Buzz” Yakshe, the school resource officer.

“Police will remain vigilant and on a high sense of alert,” Seefeld said. “As a community, we all need to do our part in keeping our kids safe and to reassure them that we're there for them.”

Twenty children and six staff members were killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut when a man entered the school with two handguns and a high-powered rifle. According to reports, the accused gunman, Adam Lanza, killed himself at the school.

To enter any Franklin Regional building, visitors must pass through the school office or a check-in desk. Only one door to each building is unlocked during the school day.

In an email to teachers and administrators on Monday, Superintendent Emery D'Arcangelo encouraged faculty to keep the day as normal as possible for students.

“We are all very saddened with the events that occurred on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. We extend our deepest thoughts and prayers to the members of that community,” D'Arcangelo wrote. “It is important that during this difficult time we all pull together and maintain a normal routine.”

Officials posted a note on the district website Monday morning, alerting parents to the additional police presence. D'Arcangelo said Murrysville police would remain on campus throughout the week during both the school day and at afterschool events.

He assured parents that the district has a “solid emergency plan in cooperation with local and county authorities,” but said that an additional police presence was necessary at this time.

“Incidents like the one in Connecticut create a sense of urgency and action in all of us,” D'Arcangelo said in the posting. “As we become more aware of the full scope of the events that occurred in Connecticut, we will make any changes necessary to increase the safety of our students. We will continue to educate our students and make every possible effort to provide a safe and secure environment for our students.”

Jill Cooper was surprised to see a police car in front of Sloan Elementary when she dropped off her son, Blake, Monday morning. She and her husband had talked to Blake the night before about the shooting. She said her fourth-grader was comforted by the fact that Murrysville's police station was across the street from his school.

Cooper said she was pleased that the district and community took extra steps to ensure children and parents felt safe this week, but she wished there would have been an advanced notification — a call or email — letting parents know about the added police presence.

“It was comforting for my son to see the police there,” Cooper said. “It definitely made everyone feel safer. It's a discussion that we have to have as a community about what (kind of security)we want in the future.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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