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Dear Downey Families and Community Members,
The Downey Unified School District (DUSD) and the Downey Police Department (DPD) have enjoyed a long, positive, and collaborative partnership over the past several decades and keeping our schools safe continues to be our priority. The two of us, DUSD Superintendent Dr. John Garcia and DPD Police Chief Leslie Murray, are writing this letter together to let our entire community know that we are focused on the safety of our community, that we meet regularly, and in the wake of the recent school tragedy in Texas, we again regrettably have to talk in depth about our current practices/procedures and about our continuous work to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for any circumstance. Through our ongoing efforts, we have established practices and other security measures that have been implemented at all schools across DUSD. Our continued commitment to the safety of children in our schools includes the following; however, this is not an exhaustive list, as some details need to stay excluded as an additional safety precaution:
- The School District funds DPD officers who are assigned to our high schools through the Police Department’s School Resource Officer Program.
- Emergency calls at the schools prompt the highest priority response from DPD.
- Patrol officers conduct security checks throughout their respective shifts and maintain an active relationship with school staff, students and parents.
- Traffic officers monitor pedestrian and vehicle traffic during school hours.
- Downey Police respond to and investigate all school safety threats, including those on social media.
- All visitors to campus are required to check in through each school’s front office.
- Every campus conducts regular drills to prepare for the possibility of a variety of emergency situations, including earthquake, fire, and an active shooter either on campus or in the vicinity of our schools.
- Each school reviews and updates its safety plan on an annual basis.
- Crossing guards monitor major traffic intersections in the mornings and afternoons, interacting with pedestrians who are approaching campuses.
- All emergency systems at school sites are routinely tested.
- Police, city officials, and district/school administrators meet regularly to discuss opportunities to improve school safety and security measures.
- DPD maintains emergency response plans for each school site, including contingency plans for evacuations and notifications.
Our schools were not designed during a time when controlled campus access was as important as it is today. However, we are now experiencing a paradigm shift that requires us to address school safety in many different ways, including school infrastructure, internal and external communication and emergency planning. As a result of community support for our facilities in 2014, DUSD has made significant physical upgrades to our campus safety which has supported our efforts to ensure another level of security for our students and staff.
Additionally, we will continue implementing the following measures:
- Internally, DPD regularly conducts active shooter training and additionally provides training and guidance to DUSD personnel. This training will be in addition to the lockdown drills already in place in our schools.
- DPD and DUSD jointly conduct perimeter safety assessments at all schools.
- DPD and DUSD are consistently assessing our communication protocols.
- DPD and DUSD provide informational updates to the DUSD Board of Education and the Downey City Council.
What can parents, families, and Downey citizens do to help?
- Stay connected with your children and monitor their social media activities.
- Reach out to school administrators, the police department, or other trained professionals if you see behavior that has potential for causing self-harm or harm to others.
- Ensure that if you own a firearm, it is locked up – it’s the law!
- Cooperate with changes to campus entry and egress plans or any other safety measures that are put in place, and know that while they may cause inconvenience they will contribute to a safer environment for our students.
- Take a moment to make sure that children understand that any school threat, regardless of the intention, may result in serious criminal and civil charges, and life-long consequences.
- If you see something, say something! Please report safety concerns to your school, the School District or to the Downey Police Department. For your convenience, the Police Department’s business line is (562) 861-0771 and the DUSD main line is (562) 469-6500. Also, WeTip (a 24-hour, anonymous reporting tool) is available seven days a week. This is available on any DUSD school website and reports can be made online or by directly calling (844) 562-0094 or texting REPORT to (844) 562-0094.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility. By working together and communicating openly – and especially by talking with and listening to our students – we will continue to keep our schools safe.
Dr. John Garcia, DUSD Superintendent of Schools
Leslie Murray, DPD Chief of Police