Irvine Police Department Shares Efforts Made to Create Safe School Environment

Irvine Police Department Shares Efforts Made to Create Safe School Environment
First responders include Santa Ana SWAT teams and Orange County Fire Authority HAZMAT crews secure Santa Ana High School as parents and family members wait for students on lock down after bomb and weapon threats circulated at the school in Santa Ana, Calif., on March 10, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

IRVINE, Calif.—To boost residents’ confidence in public safety considering recent events involving gun violence, the Irvine Police Department shared plans with the community to prevent and respond to threats to schools on June 9.

Officers discussed public safety programs and tools used by Irvine’s school district to protect students from active shooting incidents.

“Our commitment since our inception in 1975 has been and will always be the safety of our residents, businesses, schools, religious institutions, and our community as a whole. Especially our children. A child’s life should never be a statistic,” said Michael Kent, a chief officer of the department.

Sgt. Tim Petropulos, who oversees the police department’s Youth Service Unit, said officers assigned to work at schools—known as “School Resource Officers”—and those who deal specifically with drug prevention, have played a key role and have grown.

“While similar programs in other parts of the country have diminished in recent years, [our] Youth Services Unit has continued to grow and remains robust, again allowing us to have the largest youth services unit within the county of Orange,” he said.

Schools within the Irvine Unified School District have access control doors, which can be locked remotely.

Additionally, officials say, there are approximately 1,700 camera views in the district and are accessible to Irvine police in case of emergency.

Officials also discussed how district staff, teachers, and students are trained for an active shooting incident and how authorities are working to identify students that might be on a pathway to violence.

“We walk them through how the lockdown would be started and who would make the announcement, who would call 911. We talk about how teachers and students would likely respond. We discuss what to expect from the police response. And we finished with discussions about reuniting parents with their children,” Irvine police Lt. Jahid Frough said.

Frough also urged the school community to report tips anonymously related to school safety.

At the end of the meeting, Kent, the chief officer, reaffirmed that when officers respond to emergencies they do so quickly and safely, a key concern that has been raised in the response of officers during a shooting at a Uvalde elementary school in May, which left 19 children and two teachers dead.

“I can confidently say that if we were to have an active shooter incident, our sole mission is to get there as fast and as safely as possible, [to] save lives and to stop the threat,” he said.