Lynchburg Increases Presence of Police at Area Schools

Lynchburg, VA - School Resource Officers, SROs, are an important part in keeping our schools safe. Unfortunately, there are fewer SROs in Lynchburg schools lately. Tight budgets in recent years mean more SRO jobs aren't getting staffed.

Currently, there is one SRO at E.C. Glass and one at Heritage High School. It's a different story in the middle schools, though, where three SRO spots, one for each middle school, have not been staffed.

Lynchburg police officers were at all Lynchburg schools Monday, however, as a response to the shooting in Newtown. To help students feel safe, Lynchburg police wanted these officers on school grounds while students were boarding buses.

"This is a very tragic event that took place in Connecticut and often very difficult for people to deal with on many different levels, so our hope is to provide an environment where people can feel safe coming to school, working there as a staff member of coming there as a student," said Lynchburg Police Captain Ryan Zuidema.

Security at Mary Bethune Academy in Lynchburg was tight as always Monday afternoon. At the preschool, everyone has to buzz in to gain access to the building.

Over the years, officials have stepped up security at the pre-school, installing cameras around most every corner.

Mary Bethune school is responsible for 75 kids, from six weeks old to 12 years old. The entire school's fenced in, and the staff says they take safety very seriously.

"Fenced in property all the way around, so should a child be outside, there should be no way they can get beyond our gates into the streets without our supervision," explained Office Manager Sceauncia Parr.

The school's next security project is to update their fence. They want to install what's called privacy fencing, so people on the outside can't see the kids playing inside on the playground.

Monday afternoon, the Campbell County School District released this statement to ABC 13:

"Campbell County Schools considers student safety a top priority. Each school has a very detailed crisis plan that is revised annually in consultation with local law enforcement. In light of the recent horrific tragedy, we have asked each school to review their plan again with all staff.

Monthly, each Campbell County School conducts a "table-top" crisis simulation meeting with the School Resource Officers. The simulations include, but are not limited to, situations such as an intruder in the building, bomb threats, chemical spills and gas leaks, etc.

Each Campbell County School is equipped with security cameras. All exterior doors not essential to normal student traffic are locked daily."