By Michael Slother - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - School districts across the country are taking a new look at security during school board meetings, after cameras captured a violent attack in Florida. The same can be said for districts right here on the South Plains.
The video from that meeting in Panama City has been all over the news and the internet. An armed man held members of the school board hostage and eventually opened fire. Amazingly, no one was hurt besides the man with the gun. He shot and killed himself.
Wednesday, Lubbock ISD's Police Chief Mark Hinshaw told me they feel safe with the precautions they take at their meetings. He also says the district will continue to see if there's anything they can learn from the incident in Florida.
"The video is very unsettling," Hinshaw said.
Hinshaw says the district places uniformed and plain clothed officers in the monthly meetings. They're open to the public. "We work very intensely to closely monitor who is coming into the meetings. We observe any behaviors that may be of concern, assessing any potential threats with a mind on any issues that have risen in the community that would be indicative of any grievances or problems with administrators or school board members," he said.
LISD school board president James Arnold says he was shocked when he saw the video from Florida. "My first reaction is it's scary, but you hope it never happens to you."
Hinshaw told us his department communicates with human resource officers to make sure they're aware of any problems before school board meetings take place. "We communicate on a daily basis with human resource officers and we feel that collaboration assists us in being aware of any incidents before they arise and how we can avert them."
Arnold has been a part of meetings for 7 years and says he's always felt safe. "We've had tense meetings and meetings where people get angry, whether that's parents, whether that's administrators, whether that's board members. It's never escalated to the point where I've feared for my safety or the safety of my colleagues," he said.
"We feel confident the measures we already have in place are sufficient to provide for that. That being said, we will continue to analyze the situation to see if there's anything we can learn from it to help enhance our existing security measures," Hinshaw said.
"This just gives us a chance to go back and look at those issues and make sure we're doing all we can to provide a safe environment for teachers and administrators," Arnold told us. He also told us he thinks board members may meet later in the week to make sure they all feel safe. He commended Chief Hinshaw and the LISD police for the job they do and Arnold doesn't know if any changes to current safety precautions are needed.
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