The Madison Police Department will be working more closely with the elementary schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District in an effort to prevent violence in schools after a number of recent mass school shootings.
Luis Yudice, MMSD coordinator of school safety, said there were many discussions on how to increase safety in schools following the shooting at the elementary school in Newton, Conn, where 28 people were killed, most of whom were first grade students. He said many different strategies to increase safety have been discussed on the national stage and one of those was police making themselves more available at schools.
He said this would allow police to stop incidents before they occurred. Yudice said MPD officers will become familiar with staff, the layout of schools, how to respond if an incident were to occur and how to participate in safety training at schools.
He said there have been no incidents at Madison Public Schools other than the minor ones that are common at schools across the country.
Police officers are assigned to patrol certain areas of the city. Yudice said MPD officers will not be assigned to elementary schools but rather schools will be more incorporated into officers’ specific areas of duty.
He said police officers will make an effort to stop by the schools that are within their area. There are approximately 45 public elementary and middle schools in Madison, Yudice said.
“All school districts have reacted in one way or another to the the tragedy in Connecticut,” Yudice said. “They are doing their best efforts to make sure their schools are as safe as they can be.”
Police are also working to prevent school shootings at a university level. University of Wisconsin Police Department Sgt. Aaron Chapin said UWPD is working to prevent a similar incident by educating the community, training officers to respond appropriately to incidents and identifying individuals who could be threats before anything happens.
UWPD encourages community members to report information to authorities if they suspect someone may be a potential threat, so police can prevent a potential incident from happening on UW’s campus, Chapin said.
Chapin said in most situations with active shooters, somebody knew the shooter and knew something was wrong in the shooter’s life. He said if someone is acting inappropriately, it needs to be brought to the attention of the authorities.
UWPD Chief Susan Riseling has also gained attention for a short video she shows at the end of presentations she gives on campus that outline how people can protect themselves if they are attacked by someone with a gun.
“These incidents are becoming a fact of life — and death,” Riseling said in a video. “It’s clear it’s your life and you’ve got to fight back for your life. The video gives advice to handle a shooter: get out, call out, hide out, keep out and take out.”
David Gardner, spokesperson for Associated Students of Madison, said ASM works to improve campus safety and protect students. Gardner cited a mental health campaign organized by ASM as a measure taken to extend the reach of campus resources for those in need.
“We’re always happy to work with UWPD,” Gardner said. “We’re pleased with the amount of information they have been relaying to students.”