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Leashing in school safety

District plans to bring in K9 for locker searches; prior school shooting almost attempted

Guilderland School Central District is looking to introduce K9 search dog “Rocky” into school buildings to perform random drug and weapon sweeps periodically.

Guilderland School Central District is looking to introduce K9 search dog “Rocky” into school buildings to perform random drug and weapon sweeps periodically. Photo by John Purcell.

— The searches would be at a “random times” throughout the school year, Patierne said, and “certainly would not be every day.”

Patierne started her presentation sharing a statement from the National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime, which said, “Forms of school violence are not just a school problem or law enforcement problem. They involve schools, families and the communities.”

Patierne said the district has partnerships with many community organizations tackling several different issues such as bullying prevention, individual wellness and mental health, community enhancement and helping high school seniors transition to secondary education.

School shootings increasing

Patierne said between 1992 and 2004, the victimization rates for students 12 to 18 years old declined, but “targeted school shootings” have been increasing.

In the 1970s there were four incidents of targeted school shootings, with the number only jumping to five the following decade, Patierne said. In the 1990s, there were 28 targeted school shootings. In 2000, there was 13 shootings, which increased to 15 in 2007, 18 in 2008 and 37 in 2009 — a high for that decade.

“That is very concerning,” Patierne said. “As you can imagine, fear has a direct impact on higher brain functioning needed to learn, and school shootings have a profound impact on the county and community.”

Ingle said in 2001, a senior at Guilderland High School had planned to commit a school shooting, which he said most people were probably unaware of. Andrew Hernandez, who murdered his mother, wrote a plan for the attack which involved bringing guns into school wrapped in an American flag.

“He had names of students that he was going to kill and use as hostages, human shields,” Ingle said. “He was going to then walk to the resource officer’s office and kill the officer because he knew he had a gun. Then, he was going to take an elevated position on the roof and shoot first responders as they came in.”

Ingle said on the night before Hernandez’s planned attack, he decided to “test” himself and shot his mother. Hernandez then went to Crossgates Mall to see a movie, Ingle said. Later that night, Hernandez turned himself into police.

“This school was hours away from having it happen,” Ingle said.

Wiles said the presentation was aimed to provide the board, school staff and community members with a broader picture of measures undertaken by the district.

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