Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 4:28 pm | Overcast 60º


Local News

Santa Barbara Police, Schools Reviewing Safety Protocol After Newtown Massacre

Connecticut tragedy inspires local authorities to look at 'what we can control,' including conducting more premise checks on campuses

Police are helping local schools review their safety protocols in light of last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The Santa Barbara Unified School District is already reviewing its school safety plans — which are presented to the Board of Education every February — and will coordinate with police to have a larger officer presence on campuses.

There have been far more “premise checks” by officers on school campuses within the Santa Barbara city limits in recent weeks, a sign of things to come.

“Our plan is that visibility ... continue on the process (Chief Cam Sanchez) already started, which is getting neighborhood cops into the neighborhoods,” Superintendent Dave Cash said.

Cash, Santa Barbara district principals and police met recently to discuss safety plans for the schools.

“In light of what happened in Connecticut, the tragedy there, we’re now looking at what we can do better,” Santa Barbara police Capt. David Whitham said.

Whitham said authorities have been examining their protocols, and how to respond to active shooters at a school, since the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Local police do drills on campuses during the summer, among other things.

Santa Barbara police units have fast response times, but the department will train school staff on what to do in the critical minutes before police arrive to an emergency situation, said Whitham, the patrol division commander. They hope to develop a standardized training for school employees.

He added that police are also making sure they have updated contact information, keys and maps for all of the city’s schools, so no time is lost while responding. For several years, every patrol car has carried binders of maps for each school campus, and police personnel do regular walk-throughs to ensure they have firsthand knowledge of the layout.

“The basics, just the basics, can have a huge impact — just having accurate information,” Whitham said.

Sanchez said “everyone who carries a gun is going to do a walk-through of the schools” in the coming year, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood.

“It’s not like it’s been forgotten or we haven’t done it in the past,” Whitham said, “but with what happened in Connecticut, it brings the issue to light and shocks everybody. We might feel it could never happen to us, but it’s just not the case; it certainly could.”

Police will help review district safety protocols and may come talk to students, Cash said.

The Sheriff’s Department is interested in doing the same thing the district is doing with Santa Barbara police, said Cash, adding that the two departments have a mutual support agreement so they can respond to the other jurisdiction’s incidents.

Cash said he has been meeting often with Sanchez and Goleta Police Chief Butch Arnoldi since he came on as superintendent last summer.

“Our goal at this particular point is to look at what we can control and do that as well as possible,” Cash said, “and for the things outside our control, take and follow the advice of law enforcement as well as possible.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >