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Fort Dodge law enforcement, schools have plans in place if incidents occur

December 18, 2012
By PETER KASPARI ( , Messenger News

In the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, people across the nation have been asking hundreds of questions.

One of the questions that's being asked is how prepared are schools if something like this were to happen.

For the schools in Fort Dodge, safety preparedness is one of the most important priorities, according to officials.

Article Photos

AT?BUTLER?ELEMENTARY, STUDENTS CHALKED messages of support for the victims of a Connecticut school shooting on the sidewalks outside the school.

Working with Police Chief Tim Carmody, the schools have plans in place in the event an incident like this were to happen.

"Our main focus is to collaborate and come up with a prevention plan with our school partners," Carmody said. "We originally started with St. Edmond, and how we've grown to include St. Paul, the Fort Dodge schools and Iowa Central."

By giving presentations to the schools and showing what to do, Carmody said the schools are becoming more aware of what they should be on the lookout for.

"It's all about identifying any potential threats or incidents and reporting them as soon as possible so we can deal with it as fast as we can," he said.

One other way the Police Department works at preparing for a school shooter situation is by working with the Homeland Security Training Center at Iowa Central Community College.

"That training is critical," Carmody said. "Nobody wants to see a school shooting happen. That training allows us to have a more efficient response."

"If it does happen," he added, "we want to do anything we can to minimize the damage."

Training helps build confidence among everybody involved, according to Carmody.

"It helps the officers be mentally aware of the situation, and teaches them how to effectively respond in a situation like that," he said.

FDCSD Superintendent Doug Van Zyl said the district has their own plan in case something happens.

"We have procedures in place that have been developed by our safety committee," he said. "The best way at making sure nothing happens is to be proactive."

Van Zyl said the district is always reviewing its safety policies to make sure everything is up to date.

"Anytime there's a situation like what happened this past weekend, we all reflect and take a look at what our current procedures are," he said. "The challenge is that there's no perfect way to practice it. But by having a plan in place it shows people what to do if something happens."

He added any changes the school might make are all done with safety in mind.

"It's important for our staff, parents and community to know that safety is a top priority for us," Van Zyl said. "If we do make changes in procedures and policies, I hope they'd be understanding. It might be a little inconvenient, but we appreciate their input and help in working with us on safety."



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