FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - A tragedy like the one that hit the small Connecticut town of Newtown underscores the concern of parents everywhere that their community may not be immune to senseless violence.
Schools drill for this kind of emergency in hopes they never need it.
CBS 11 News secured video of one such drill, a dramatic exercise that Dallas ISD middle and high schools run annually.
They know the threat, and now it seems more clear even elementary schools are not immune, as DISD Superintendent Mike Miles told reporters.
“Elementary schools should be filled with hope and opportunity, and not places of pain and sadness,” he said. “Our schools are safe, but we will take the time to monitor today’s events to see what we can learn to make sure we make our schools even safer.”
DISD Police Chief Craig Miller says the sad truth is something useful is learned from every attack.
“It’s unfortunate that times like this we’re able to learn things that may help us down the road in making our environment more safe for the students here at the DISD.”
Still, he cautions there are things they simply can’t anticipate.
“Sometimes you’re faced with having to deal with situations as they occur. We can do prevention, we can instruct preventions and we can have plans, but those plans can always be thwarted. I think a person that’s diligent in wanting to beat a system can do that.”
Both officials declare their first job is to keep kids safe.
Fort Worth runs emergency drills, too, and CBS 11 News has video of that one from last May as well.
It mimicked a hazardous material spill complete with evacuations.
Lessons learned can be applied to shootings or other emergency scenarios.
“We would encounter tornadoes more than we would encounter anything else,” according to spokesman Clint Bond.
“We have schools near highways and railroads, so we would perhaps encounter some hazardous chemical spills, that kind of thing.”
With an eye towards preparation, it’s put various plans online and urges students and parents to get familiar with what to do in an emergency.
Schools across North Texas lock public entrances, use metal detectors, and have police school resource officers.
But any solo actor can snap, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Sylvia Gearing. And almost invariably, looking back, people can see they should have realized the individual was having issues.
“There were pre-incident predictors of violence. These are very unusual, very deranged people that, thank God, are not plentiful. So it is not unusual for them to kill their parents,” she says. “Several other school shooters, several other incidents in which they executed their parents, slaughtered their parents, prior to killing the kids at school. And the parents were school teachers.”
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