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Palos Verdes Estates Police Chief Velez's Message on School Safety

Post Date:02/28/2018 9:54 AM

The recent school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida has understandably created anxiety and concern regarding school safety. I come before you to reiterate that our dedicated police officers of Palos Verdes Estates are committed to providing protection at the schools. We take this responsibility very seriously and continually work with the Palos Verdes Unified School District to keep our schools a safe place for learning. Working closely with school principals across the district, we are often visible throughout the day at the various schools.

Our contact with the schools include outreach, training, talks with school staff, school site plans, random school visits, and immediately responding to safety threats received, including those from social media. Our training for these types of events is ongoing. At least once a year our officers do active shooter training at the schools, often including school personnel. We also do scenario based training during briefings, and supervisors have developed a response plan for each school in the event of a school shooting. Immediately, after a school shooting occurs in the country, many things happen in our police department. We increase our presence at the schools, communicate with the principals and school staff, review and update our response plans, and discuss school shootings and school safety with students.

Our proactive patrols allow us to be a presence around schools throughout the day and quickly respond to threats. For example, during July of 2017 we received call of an active shooter at Palos Verdes High School. Our response time for that call was 40 seconds (from dispatch answering the phone until the first officer was on the campus). 40 seconds.  Additionally, within one minute of arriving on scene, officers were on the phone with the school principal and quickly determined the caller was mistaken.

When threats are made, we immediately and proactively respond to and investigate all such threats. Regardless of intention, those making threats may be arrested and subject to criminal and civil consequences.  Also, students found to be making threats may face serious administrative consequences up to and including expulsion from school.

Here is what parents, guardians and students can do to help:

  • Discuss this important issue with your children, and monitor their social media activities
  • Reach out to your school Principal, local Police or other trained professionals if you see behavior that could result in self-harm or harm to others
  • Make sure firearms are locked and secure, it’s the law.
  • If you hear something, or see something, say something
  • Report safety concerns to your school principal or the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department at 310-378-4211, or for emergencies call 911.

Rest assured, we are ready to respond to and handle any situation that occurs.

Thank you for allowing me to address you about this very important issue.

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