Worthington News

Security questions after Sandy Hook

Schools 'always looking at ways' to improve safety


The front doors of all Worthington schools are left open during the school day. Should they be locked, or should a buzz-in system be installed?

Each school has its own emergency plan and evacuation point. Do these plans correspond to those of the police departments that serve them?

Those and other points are expected to be examined in coming weeks as school and police officials work together to perfect security procedures brought into focus after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last week. A gunman there forced his way into the school and killed 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.

The first of what is expected to be a series of meetings was held Dec. 17 among Worthington school, city and police officials. Sharon Township and Perry Township police chiefs attended, along with Worthington Chief James Mosic.

"If we had a major incident, we would all respond," Mosic said.

The schools already have emergency plans in place, and each school regularly practices lockdown procedures, as is required by state law, district spokesperson Vicki Gnezda said.

"We are always looking at ways of making our buildings safer," she said.

Gnezda said she expects parents soon would get involved in the question of installing buzz-in systems in the schools. Sandy Hook had a buzz-in system, but it did not stop an armed person from entering.

Police, too, have plans to respond in emergency situations, but they could be refined and be made more in tune with the schools, Mosic said.

"We will try to get a better idea of how the two procedures meld together," he said.

The schools also will allow police to have access for training exercises. Each officer needs to be familiar with each school, Mosic said.

Those exercises have been done in the past but need to be done on a regular basis, he said.

"It is something we need to do ongoing to make sure we're prepared," he said.