NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) — Many police agencies across Western New York increased patrols in and around schools to bolster security in wake of the horrific Texas school shooting.
Some agencies say it will be extended until the end of the school year.
Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted Wednesday morning that the state convened an emergency meeting with New York State Police “to ensure” they are doing “everything possible to protect our schools.”
“State Police will increase patrols and conduct daily check-ins at schools from today through the end of the school year,” wrote Hochul.
Buffalo Public Schools issued a statement for a new security policy that takes effect immediately.
“The safety and security of our students and staff is our highest priority! After the horrific Buffalo and Texas Mass Shootings, any person who wishes to enter a school MUST call ahead and obtain prior approval to entering the building. This includes parents, caregivers, siblings, and vendors; NO EXCEPTIONS will be made. For the safety of all, the doors at each of our school locations will remain locked during the school day. There are camera monitors at the front entrance of each of our school sites. All visitors, parents, and caregivers will need to announce their name and the name of their child to be buzzed into a school. Upon entry, visitors may be subjected to wanding and/ or a search process for safety measures. The Buffalo Police Department and/or Buffalo Public Schools Security staff will have a presence in and around schools for an undetermined amount of time. At this time, end-of-the-year ceremonies are scheduled to be held with all extra safety protocols in place. We are deeply appreciative of your understanding to keep all safe. Thank you.”
In the Niagara Falls City School District, Niagara Falls Police Officer Tyler Howard is now patrolling inside the Cataract Elementary School for added protection.
"I think you have to remain vigilant and always train for the worst-case scenario and prepare for the worst-case scenario and pray for the best,” remarked Bryan Dalporto, chief security administrator, Niagara Falls City School District.
Dalporto says the best thing schools can do is make sure every day they pay attention to the safety and security of students.
The school district already limits public access to its buildings.
Even if you're a parent, you can't just walk into the building unannounced. You must let them know ahead of time that you're coming for your child. You also must wait in your vehicle to pick up a child.
“Really no one — unless they have an appointment with prior authorization is allowed in the schools, so we have a staff member or the security officers or somebody from the staff meet them at the front door or talk to them — find out what they need to do,” Dalporto explained.
District and school leaders work together with the police department to maintain a good security plan.
“They know that the doors are locked — that people have to be buzzed into the schools — they know that — I teach them this is a safe place,” replied Katharine Sirianni-Morock.
Sirianni-Morock is the school's social worker and also a mother of three children who attend the school. Two of her children are the same ages as the children murdered Tuesday at their school in Texas.
“It was very hard for me to process because I kept saying to my husband that's Lugar and Eli — that's their ages — my two younger ones — so it was tough," said Sirianni-Morock.
The social worker says she is trying to keep things as normal as possible for her children and students.
Cataract Principal Stan Wojton tells me the district is doing everything it can to keep students as safe as possible in the classroom.
“Do you feel safe?” Buckley asked.
"Absolutely — no questions asked — I feel safe here for myself for our staff for our students — I have three children that attend Niagara Falls Schools and no question — absolutely feel safe,” Wojton replied.
And when students head outside for recess, protocols are in place.
“When we exit the building to utilize our playground or outside play areas, we have in place that we have to have our radio and our communication — where our main office is aware where all staff members and students are at all times,” Wojton.