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Fullerton police chief offers new school-lockdown policy

The Fullerton police chief is recommending a three-level lockdown policy for Fullerton's 25 public schools – from merely restricting access on and off campuses to locking down classrooms.

The revisions to existing safety policies were prompted by the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., when 20 children and six adults were shot to death.

Capt. Dan Hughes, the acting chief, presented the recommendations last week to officials of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District and the Fullerton School District. He hopes the city's private schools also agree to the stepped-up procedures.

"These issues and the protection of our children are on the hearts and minds of our teachers, officials, parents and the Police Department," Hughes said. "We want to be very strategic and methodical and be sure we have plans in place to protect our children. ... We want no surprises."

School officials will review the proposal and give feedback to Hughes by week's end, said Kathy Ikola, assistant to the superintendent of the Fullerton School District. "It looks great to us."

Under the proposal:

•Level 1, or "Alert" lockdown, stops people from going on or off campus. Students might not be aware that the campus has been locked down. Such a scenario could be triggered by a nearby arrest or search warrant being conducted.

•Level 2, or "Caution" lockdown, calls for students to stay in classrooms with unsupervised movement on campus prohibited. A pursuit ending near a campus could warrant a Level 2.

•Level 3, or "Emergency" lockdown, mandates that students and teachers stay in locked classrooms and lay on the floor with the lights off. Furniture would be deployed to block entrances. Scenarios invoking a Level 3 include a possible shooter on campus.

In addition to the proposed lockdown policies, police have been assessing the individual safety needs at each school, Hughes said.

The Fullerton School District equips each classroom with a lockdown kit, which includes a first aid kit, flashlight, water and a crowbar. Public elementary schools already participate in state-mandated earthquake, lockdown and fire drills at least four times a year, Ikola said.

Meanwhile, in the high school district, campus drills, including those for lockdowns, are regularly conducted, and a full-time police officer serves each high school, officials said.

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