Virginia officials respond to Connecticut tragedy
As the nation’s attention and prayers go towards to victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Virginia officials responded with their own words of concern.
Governor Bob McDonnell (R) released the following statement:
“It is with a heavy heart and the deepest of sympathies that I learned earlier today of the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted by the events transpiring today, and to the teachers, emergency responders, and all others touched by this tragedy. Unfortunately, Virginia has our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and we continue to grieve for all those lost on that April day. We are all too aware of the impact that events like this can have on a community. If there is anything Virginia can do to assist Governor Malloy and the citizens of Connecticut, we stand ready to do so.”
Former Governor and Senator-elect Tim Kaine (D) said the following:
“Words fail to express the profound sadness I feel for the families of those who were lost and those who will carry the scars of this tragedy. Our Commonwealth knows too well the pain of senseless gun violence. Like all Virginians, Anne and I offer our thoughts, prayers, and heartfelt condolences to the community of Newtown.”’
Senator Mark Warner (D) released the this statement:
“My thoughts are with the Sandy Hook Elementary School students, teachers, their families and the first-responders who are dealing with this horrific tragedy. Virginians know too well how devastating a trauma like this can be, and that recovering and moving forward will take time. We’re praying for all those in Newtown and across Connecticut.”
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), tweeted the following statement:
“As a father, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrific tragedy in Connecticut.”
Locally, Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Edgar Hatrick released the following statement to reassure parents regarding security in Loudoun Schools:
“In the wake of today’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I wanted to reach out to you and detail what we do in an effort to make our schools secure.
First, I want you to know that Loudoun’s security planning predates the Columbine tragedy. We have worked with law enforcement officials for more than a decade to make our schools as secure as possible, while still recognizing that we are an institution of public education.
After the September 11th attacks we severely limited access to our schools by locking and monitoring entrances. We want to ensure that only people who have legitimate business in our schools are allowed inside. Loudoun’s schools use the AiPhone system, secure-card access, cameras and DVR-recording equipment to monitor access and activities in and around our schools.
Today, I have sent a memorandum to our principals to make sure they review and reinforce all school security measures that are in place, particularly with regard to controlling access to our schools.
Our high schools and middle schools have school resource officers, uniformed members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Leesburg Police Department, on duty at the school. In addition, safety and security specialists are deployed at the high schools. They work in partnership with school resource officers to maintain school safety and security.
Today, our safety and security supervisor, Suzanne Devlin, a former Fairfax police chief, spoke with all local law enforcement agencies in Loudoun (the Sheriff’s Office and police departments in Leesburg, Purcellville and Middleburg) about stepping up routine patrols around our elementary schools. I am pleased to say that all these agencies have agreed to do so.
Recently, the school system provided law enforcement agencies with key card access to ensure immediate access to schools in the case of any violent encounter. This is part of a safety plan that is practiced regularly by law enforcement agencies in our facilities.
With all we do to make our schools secure, I realize that there will be students who are upset about what happened today. I have attached a document from our Pupil Services Department that details things you may want to speak with your child about (Parent Resource: Addressing Acts of Violence in Schools, click here.) As always, school counselors, teachers and our school administrators are available to speak to any child who may have fears or concerns about the safety of their school.
Finally, as the father of three children who graduated from Loudoun’s schools and the grandfather of young children, I am deeply saddened and concerned about what happened in a public school today. As your superintendent, I make the safety of our students and staff my first priority; a priority I share with our School Board and my fellow superintendents across America.”