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Secret Service issues new guidelines on school security

SIDNEY, Ohio (WDTN) - The U.S. Secret Service has released new guidelines to schools regarding security.

To prevent tragedy, federal officials are urging schools to establish teams of staff members to assess all potential threats.

John Scheu, superintendent for Sidney City Schools who helped his district implement a new security program, said he agrees being prepared in advance is one of the best ways to prevent tragedy.

There are 40 safes, each with a loaded gun, bolted to the walls throughout the seven school buildings in the Sidney district, Scheu explained, and they can only open with a trained staff member's fingerprint.

The school district has trained a response team of 40 staff members to use the firearms in an emergency, he said.

"We have put all of our planning, our resources, our strategies into dealing as effectively as possible with putting that threat out as quickly as possible because the response time is of the essence," Scheu said.

Scheu's district created the security plan shortly after the Newtown school shooting. In addition to locked doors, surveillance cameras and a bulletproof window at the high school main office, the schools also have numbered windows to match blueprints provided to law enforcement if they need to respond, Scheu explained.

Each school in the district also has an armed security officer, and signs are posted at each building to warn anyone who may want to cause harm, he added.

"We think that we're a harder target than not, and we feel that that in itself is a deterrent," Scheu said.

The security measures at Sidney City Schools go beyond newly-released guidelines on school security from the Secret Service, which urge schools to create teams to evaluate any potential threats. The guidelines say the teams should meet regularly to discuss how to respond to warning signs and during an attack.

They also say schools should encourage students to report any troubling behavior.

"It certainly makes sense to me that all school districts should have some type of a plan to deal at a minimum effectively as possible with an active shooter situation," Scheu said.

Parents we spoke with said they support increased school security. Mike Alden, who volunteers at one of Sidney's elementary schools, said the measures in place make him and others feel safer.

"It's necessary," Alden said. "Cause the last thing you want is one of the tragedies that you see unfold in any other school."

The Secret Service report also points out that there is no typical profile of a student attacker.

Sidney City Schools reviews its security protocol each year to see if any changes are needed, Scheu said. 

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