Pasco school security upgrades will be expedited, district leaders say
PASCO, Wash. -- The school shooting in Parkland, Florida is causing school leaders in our community to take a harder look at school safety.
“Years ago, schools would do their thing, police would do their thing, we'd maybe meet at football games,” Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger said.
But not now. First responders walked side by side with school leaders around an elementary school--scanning the campus for anything that could be made more secure.
“It's a partnership,” Metzger said.
“They've seen a number of things, and they've gone to trainings around the country to see how best to protect the schools,” said Randy Nunamaker, Pasco School District director of operations. “And that information they bring back of course is invaluable.”
First responders have been touring all Pasco schools, and they say they're mostly finding minor fixes.
“It's a good opportunity for us, after what's occurred in Florida, to look at what we're doing and just tighten things up a little bit,” Metzger said. “There's always room for improvement in anything you do.”
District leaders said they're looking to upgrade some existing security features, like bringing in more cameras.
“Teachers need to feel safe, the students need to feel safe,” Nunamaker said. “If they don't feel like it's safe, the learning environment just isn't going to be as productive as it could be.”
Pasco bond money is already going to improving exterior doors--something police said is one of their recommendations.
Older schools like Captain Gray STEM Elementary will be getting new security foyers so that anyone visiting the school will have to be buzzed in through a second pair of doors.
And after the latest school shooting, district leaders said they're speeding up the schedule so construction can start this summer.
“Hopefully we'll avoid having an issue like we've seen in other parts of the country,” Metzger said. “That's really our goal--try to keep that from happening here. I’d rather spend my time going through and preventing then going through and investigating.”
Pasco school leaders are inviting parents to come to a panel discussion at the Pasco Police Department training center on March 22, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. They said they want to hear your ideas, feedback, and suggestions on how to make our schools safer places.