Dowagiac schools tighten securityPublished 3:44pm Monday, December 17, 2012
A massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday left the world reeling.
“I hope this brings our Congress together to work on this issue,” Dowagiac Supt. Mark Daniel said Monday, outlining steps the district will be taking, including a police presence in each building, to guard against potential copycat killers.
Six adults and 20 boys and girls ages 6 and 7 were slaughtered.
“Surely, we can do better than this,” President Barack Obama said Sunday night. “We have an obligation to try.”
Obama read the names of the adults early in his remarks. He finished by reading the first names of the kids, haltingly, making for a wrenching moment.
Adam Lanza, 20, carried out the rampage before taking his own life. He also shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, to death in the nearby home they shared before storming the school.
Speaking at the fourth such memorial service in as many years of his administration, Obama declared he will use “whatever power” his office has to prevent shootings such as the Connecticut school massacre.
“What choice do we have?” Obama said at the vigil in the shattered community. “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
He didn’t say how he would take on the explosive gun control issue, but made clear the deaths compelled a nation failing to keep its children safe to act.
“We met this morning with counselors and (Department of Public Safety Director Tom) Atkinson,” Daniel said. “We will be securing all doors, even main entries. Once school is in session, they will be locked.”
Only the 2005 Dowagiac Middle School has buzz-in entry, but school officials will be evaluating equipping other buildings.
“We have to explore those options,” Daniel said, adding the district crisis team plans to meet on Wednesday.
School officials also conferred on how to discuss the carnage with students.
Union High School will change movement patterns to enter and exit through the main door instead of directly to the east or west parking lots. Exterior doors will be secured, said Daniel, who is sending a letter to all parents outlining changes.
“We will have a police presence this week,” Daniel said, with Officer Ryan Murray at Sister Lakes, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office covering Kincheloe Elementary School and city police watching town schools. “We hope it’s a comfort for parents.”
The superintendent said he hopes the magnitude of the tragedy “finally galvanizes” attention to weapons and mental health issues. “We’re taking it very seriously.”
Moments of silence were observed everywhere from the Chieftains’ basketball game to the “Survivor” finale.
“There’s got to be a turning point here, and we’ve got to figure these things out,” Daniel said.