‘It can happen anywhere’: Ensuring safety in Calcasieu Parish schools

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 4:17 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - When you send your child off to school, you want peace of mind that they’ll be safe. With an increasing number of mass shootings nationwide, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso wants to ensure childrens’ safety is their top priority.

Schools and law enforcement are working together to create a plan for any school emergency.

“No matter what’s thrown at us we’re gonna handle it,” said Sheriff Mancuso.

Mancuso is assuring parents and students they can count on law enforcement to keep students safe as they head back to school next month.

“We have really really put a lot of training and effort into making sure we’re always on the same page. You know you talk about and you hear, again, in Uvalde about command control. Who was the incident commander at the school? Let me tell you something, we have already established that here in Calcasieu Parish,” said Mancuso.

Mancuso said the sheriff’s office, police departments and school board have a great relationship and are working together on comprehensive emergency plans.

“If this happens, this is who’s gonna be the incident commander when we all arrive, and this is what takes place. We’ve got that. And it’s not about egos, it’s about - we know that somebody’s gotta be in charge, it can’t be everybody running around taking orders from 10 different people,” Mancuso said.

“We know that we have to establish that, and we have that. And we’re gonna move from that point forward to try to stop that threat immediately. We’re not gonna let this go on and on and on in our community,” said Mancuso.

While he’s hopeful there will never be such an incident, he says his team is always ready.

“If it can happen in Uvalde, it can happen anywhere in the United States. So, I think the first step for all of us is don’t stick your head in the mud and think this won’t happen to us. We have to be vigilant, and I’m talking about the schools, our parents, law enforcement, we all have to take ownership in part of this,” said Mancuso.

Their focus now is on preventing anything from happening here at home.

“But now we think we have a good plan in place, a good strategy, good safety measures and we’re gonna proceed with those plans as this school year starts, and our main focus and our goal is to keep our children 100 percent safe and that’s what we’re gonna try to do,” Mancuso said.

He said their quick response team, a group of SWAT officers, is ready to respond to any school in the area at any time during the school year. He adds that school resource officers are highly trained and motivated to keep the children in the parish safe.

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