Richland school district teams with local police to keep schools safer

TRI-CITIES, WA - Richland Schools have been fighting off rumors about threats of violence or weapons being brought to school. The district even issued a statement saying it would not tolerate anyone spreading these rumors -- and kids could even be expelled for it. Richland is addressing this concern -- and future security following the massacre in Connecticut.

"Irresponsible people" are blamed for rumors that began flying around Richland on Wednesday night.

Scaring the community about students needing weapons on campus to defend themselves from doomsday predictions.
Richland will have police on campus Friday to keep things calm. This is just one example of an increased relationship with law enforcement that began even before the shootings in Connecticut.

Just on Thursday -- Richland Police met with the school board to go over safety procedures and precautions already in place -- and look for ways to shore up any weaknesses.

"Any structure has vulnerability architecturally and schools are no different," said Richland Police Cpt. Mike Cobb.

Parents understand this. Kevin Veleke's a parent and his wife is an educator. He understands you can't make a plan to overcome every threat.

"I'm not sure anyone is prepared for a bad guy walking into my office, I'm not sure you can prepare for that," said parent Kevin Velveke.

His wife's students already practice lockdown drills to prepare for the worst.

"You didn't learn from a three-ring binder, you learn on the job, through awareness you create responses," said Velveke.

Those responses may include the use of a panic button. It's something now-equipped in all Richland schools to lock every door and call law enforcement instantly.

The Connecticut massacre forced all districts to take a second look at their procedures.

Kennewick told me it made no immediate changes since last week -- but after winter break -- the district plans to take a closer look at drill scenarios, putting more emphasis on active shooting situations.

Pasco released a letter saying it would re-evaluate its procedures to ensure students' safety.

Every Pasco school building has video surveillance and many buildings can only be entered by swiping a badge.

"Sometimes you can't prevent everything, you can't prevent your child from falling off a bike, but you can make it safer by putting on a helmet," said Velveke.

"Are there areas we still need to improve on? Absolutely, but the cooperation, the relationship continues to improve and grow and I'm very encouraged by that," said Cpt. Cobb.