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Agencies to Team Up on School Safety

October 23, 2003|Cara Mia DiMassa | Times Staff Writer

In the wake of recent shootings near Los Angeles public schools, public officials on Wednesday announced a new, coordinated effort to better police campuses and the areas surrounding them.

"Schools must be a safe haven," said Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. "The neighborhoods around schools need to be safe as well."

Hahn said that the collaboration among the city, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department would allow the agencies to work more effectively toward reducing violence near schools.

School officials said the partnership formalizes and expands an effort to coordinate the deployment of officers around campuses that has been underway since a gunman opened fire last month into a crowd at a bus stop outside Taft High School in Woodland Hills, wounding three students. Although details of the partnership plan have yet to be completed, officials said the goal is to develop better security plans for all L.A. Unified high schools, middle schools and the neighborhoods around them by February.

A resolution to ratify a new interagency task force is being sponsored by Los Angeles school board President Jose Huizar and members Marlene Canter and Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. The board of education is expected to approve it next week.

At Duke Ellington Continuation School in South Los Angeles, Principal Cecil McLinn said he has already felt an increased presence of sheriff's deputies around his campus in the five weeks since a 16-year-old freshman was hit in the leg by a bullet as he waited for a bus.

Still, McLinn said, "We have to make sure that the perimeters around the school are safe."

At the news conference, LaMotte said it wasn't enough to leave the patrol of the areas around school to the police. She urged people who live around schools to be vigilant at the beginning and ending of each school day.

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