ALAMEDA -- Alameda police say they routinely review security procedures at local schools, efforts that were under way before the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., thrust campus safety into the national spotlight.

The annual review includes lockdown procedures and making sure that teachers have been briefed on what they should do in the event an armed intruder has been spotted on school grounds, Alameda police detective Sgt. Wayland Gee said.

"The protocols include basic information, such as reminding teachers that they should not open the classroom door to anyone if the school is on lockdown," Gee said. "But we also maintain a list of cell phone numbers for every teacher and staff member at the district."

State law requires school districts to have a safety plan that lays out procedures for how teachers and others will handle emergencies, including earthquakes.

As part of their preparations, the Alameda police also maintain maps of each building within the Alameda Unified School District. Police have also designated specific areas within each classroom for teachers and students to shelter in the event of trouble.

District officials meet with police officers assigned as "School Resource Officers" monthly to review security procedures, said Robert Shemwell, the district's chief business officer.

The meeting set for next month will include additional teachers and administrators -- an expansion that was planned before the events in Connecticut -- in an bid to increase overall student safety.


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School Resource Officers are uniformed police officers who are assigned to a campus as part of their beat and who play a key role in the safety protocols.

Along with keeping schools safe on a daily basis, the idea behind the program is for officers to develop relationships with students, allowing them to pick up gossip that could offer leads when wrongdoing happens, and for officers to quickly notice signs of possible trouble on a campus.

In April, the district conducted a four-hour drill at Alameda High School with police and firefighters that featured a lockdown and student evacuations, plus volunteers playing roles of people who would be involved in an emergency.

The school was briefly put on an actual lockdown in October after a student was reported armed with a firearm on campus. The 17-year-old boy was in possession of a starter pistol, a knife, narcotics and alcohol, police said.

He was arrested and released to his parents with a citation that called on him to appear in juvenile court. Investigators said they found no evidence the teen wished to harm anyone.

On Friday, Superintendent Kirsten Vital sent a recorded message to Alameda parents, reassuring them that safety remains a priority following the shootings in Newton, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead.

The principal at St. Philip Neri Elementary School on High Street also sought to reassure parents with an email. Just a month before the shootings, the school held its annual emergency drill, which includes notifying parents, said Mark Carter, the campus bookkeeper.

But an Alameda police officer still visited St. Philip Neri after news broke about the shootings to check security and offer suggestions on ways it can be improved, Carter said.

The most recent review of security protocols in Alameda public schools began with the start of the school year. While much of it has been completed, some of the work -- such as updating the master list of teacher cell phone numbers -- still needs to be finished, Gee said.

"The protocols are reviewed and updated annually," he said. "We consider it a priority."

Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.

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