LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The recent school massacre in Texas raises the question: How are schools protected in Acadiana?
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office is working together with the Lafayette Parish School System to improve school monitoring. LPSS is the first school system in Louisiana to establish a tracking system in real time with law enforcement. Schools will be connected directly with the LPSO Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) and Lafayette 911, to boost response time and be more effective when responding to a crisis. “We are right there on the cusp, trying to be as proactive as we can for the students and the families in the parish,” said Valerie Ponseti, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.
Established in 2018, the sheriff’s office oversees the School Resource Officer Program in 50 schools, including private schools, supported by police officers from Lafayette, Broussard, Scott, Carencro, and Youngsville. Safety plans and procedures for each school are a collaborative effort. “Everyone comes together to figure out what’s going to be the best plan. What’s the most proactive thing we can do, to ensure safety and security in a number of different situations,” said Ponseti.
Ponseti says school resource officers are fully trained for multiple situations at school. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure they are prepared as possible, to handle whatever might come to them on that school campus,” said Ponseti.
Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins is introducing legislation to address school safety. Higgins says the goal of the ‘School Resource Officer Assessment Act’ and the ‘School Watch and Tactics Act’ is to protect students and teachers by enhancing school safety standards.
“My plan, I believe, would allow us as a nation to put these horrific, heart-wrenching school shootings in the dust bin of history, without injuring our freedoms and constitutional rights, as citizens, and without interfering with the rights of our states, and municipalities, our school boards, our communities, parents, and teachers,” said Higgins
Ponseti also says the RTCC has already avoided what might have been, when a person made a threat at a high school recently. The monitoring system was able to locate and stop the person with a weapon before making it to campus.