Editor’s note: The following statement was issued Monday morning by the Village of Lemont:
As we mourn the senseless loss of life of innocent children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut it is natural to wonder how safe Lemont schools are, and are we doing everything we can to protect our children. We would like to assure each of you who are parents or family members of students or staff at any of our schools that safeguards are in place to protect and prevent acts of school violence.
The Village of Lemont and the Lemont Police Department work very closely with each school to provide the most current methods of school security and safety precautions. We have a regular presence in school buildings through our high school resource officer and our elementary school drug education officer.
Lemont PD administration meets regularly with administrators from Lemont High School, School District 113A and St. Cyril. (St. Al's/St. Pat's is located in unincorporated Lemont. We do provide drug awareness education and work closely with DuPage County Sheriff's Department.)
Each year we review Emergency Response plans and make changes as needed. The Lemont Fire Department and Lemont Emergency Management Agency are also involved in these planning sessions. In addition to written protocols we conduct periodic school safety drills that afford school staff as well as our officers’ hands on experience in emergency response. We debrief and make changes as needed.
The LPD conducted "hands on" drills this year at our schools, including a safety drill at St. Cyril's this past Friday morning. Our training follows established guidelines provided by state and federal law enforcement. The Lemont Police Department also participates in the South Suburban Emergency Response Team (S-SERT) and has access to resources of the Cook County Sheriff's Department and the Illinois State Police.
In closing, we train for as many scenarios of school violence as we can. There exists however, NO absolute prevention to tragedies such as the most recent in Newtown.
In each school shooting there have been two consistent and painful components. First, the availability of firearms (in particular high capacity assault rifles) and second, the presence of mental illness in the shooter. With that in mind, we encourage any of you who own firearms to keep them safely away from unauthorized use. Take a few moments today and review your precautions in seeing to it that YOUR guns are NEVER used in senseless loss of life.
Concerning mental illness, if you have a family member who suffers from mental illness or displays symptoms of erratic or bizarre behavior, seek care or treatment for them. If you have any guns in your house, remove them immediately. The LPD will assist you in securing your guns until such time as you can transfer them to another. We will destroy any guns at your request. This offer extends to any member of the community who feels uncomfortable with guns in your home. Call LPD and we will assist you in disposal.
Our pledge to the residents of Lemont is "Serve and Protect." We are committed to your safety and security.
Brian K. Reaves
Chief of Police
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