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Virginia Beach schools security panel suggests more training, mental health staffing

Virginian-Pilot - 7/10/2018

July 10--VIRGINIA BEACH -- More practice for handling emergencies. Securing school entrances. Increased mental health staffing.

Those are three of the recommendations from a panel that met over the past few months to evaluate security within Virginia Beach's school system.

Police Chief Jim Cervera and Schools Superintendent Aaron Spence are expected to hold a news conference this morning to talk about the findings.

The panel of police, city, Navy and school personnel formed in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Its goal was to look at what the division was doing well to protect students and staff, what gaps might exist and what resources might be needed.

Starting work in April, the group visited schools and solicited ideas from the community.

They came up with 11 suggestions, divided into three categories: Safety protocols; infrastructure and personnel; and mental health.

For safety protocols, the ideas included expanding emergency procedure training and holding more unannounced reviews.

The group also advised strengthening the areas where people enter buildings -- such as the security desk -- and re-evaluating the way security personnel are hired and trained.

Increased mental health staffing was also recommended, as well as improving collaboration with communities around schools.

This is a developing story. Check pilotonline.com throughout the day for updates.

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(c)2018 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

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