Schools, First Responders Hold Safety Forum

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Fredericksburg City Schools held their School Safety Forum with area first responders on Saturday morning.

Members of the Fredericksburg Police Department, the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office and the Fredericksburg Fire Department joined staff and parents at James Monroe High School’s auditorium to discuss and address concerns for school safety, including recent threats.

Police Chief Brian Layton announced the addition of a full-time school resource officer at Walker-Grant Middle School, as well as two new part-time positions (one of which has already been filled). The department will also provide area schools with the same door breaching kits that are currently equipped in supervisor vehicles to ensure they are readily available in emergency situations.

Captain Scott Foster from the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office talked about the new “Special Response Team” that will work with the police department’s existing Special Equipment Tactical Team, adding that both departments already train regularly on a variety of emergency scenarios. He added that while a deputy is already present for morning bus drop off at Hugh Mercer and Upper Lafayette Elementary Schools, they are looking at adding deputies for afternoon pick up times.

Fredericksburg Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack McGovern spoke about the importance of the collaborative efforts between departments. According to McGovern, this has been aided by the city’s new Mobile Command Unit truck, which assisted in the response in not only the recent swatting attempts, but also the spring’s Madonna House fire and relocating missing persons.

Questions and comments from the audience centered around the response to threats at James Monroe High School that led to early dismissals and evacuations several times in past weeks. Some were critical of the limited information being provided to parents. Both Chief Layton and Dr. Matthew Eberhardt, Deputy Superintendent of Fredericksburg City Public Schools acknowledged their concerns but both cited federal laws regarding the privacy of minors that limited what could be made public.

Next up for Fredericksburg City Public Schools will be their Superintendent Roundtable on Wednesday, October 12th.

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