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MBPD/MBUSD Issue Joint School Safety Statement

Mar 14, 2018 10:02PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Students stage a peaceful walkout at Manhattan Beach Middle School on Wednesday, March 14

Following a peaceful "Day of Expression" on Mira Costa High School and Manhattan Beach MIddle School campuses on Wednesday, the Manhattan Beach police chief and the MBUSD superintendent issued a joint statement on school safety.

Manhattan Beach Police Department Chief Derrick Abell and Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Mike Matthews pledged to continue to work closely together. They noted important school safety policies that are already in place, such as the presence of School Resource Officers on campus and the use of Lock-Blocs to allow teachers to lock classrooms from the inside. They also cited items that are upcoming or planned, such as active shooter training for MBUSD staff.

The statement comes at a time of increased discussion and awareness of school safety following the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida last month.

Wednesday's campus demonstrations included a moment of silence out of respect for the Florida shooting victims, followed by brief walkouts at the middle school and high school at 10:00 a.m. Students holding signs and chanting for greater gun control measures marched in front of the schools with police and community safety officers looking on. The marches were part of a planned National School Walkout Day calling for new gun control legislation in the wake of the Parkland massacre.

The full text of the statement is below:

Community Letter about School Safety from Police Chief Derrick Abell & MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews

Dear Manhattan Beach Families and Community Members,
The Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) and the Manhattan Beach Police Department (MBPD) have enjoyed a long, positive, and collaborative partnership over the past several decades and keeping our schools safe continues to be our priority. The two of us, MBPD Chief Abell and MBUSD Superintendent Matthews, are writing this letter together to let our entire community know that we are focused on the safety of our community, that we meet regularly, and in the wake of the recent school tragedy in Florida, that we have had several opportunities to talk in depth about our current practices and procedures and about the work that we can do together to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for any circumstance. Through this open dialogue, we have identified a number of preventative measures to implement immediately, and other security measures that will require additional research and/or funding. Our continued commitment to the safety of children in our schools includes a number of ongoing initiatives:

  • The City funds two MBPD officers who are assigned full time to our schools through the Police Department’s School Resource Officer Program.
  • Emergency response time by patrol officers is within two minutes of a 911 call.
  • Patrol officers conduct security checks throughout their respective shifts and maintain an active relationship with school staff, students, and parents.
  • Traffic officers monitor pedestrian and vehicle traffic during school hours.
  • Manhattan Beach Police respond to and investigate all school safety threats, including those on social media.
  • Each school site maintains a locked perimeter during the school day, and all visitors to campus are required to check in through each school’s front office.
  • Every campus conducts regular drills to prepare for the possibility of a variety of emergency situations, including earthquake, fire, and an active shooter either on campus or in the vicinity of our schools.
  • Each school reviews and updates its safety plan on an annual basis.
  • Crossing guards monitor all major traffic intersections in the mornings and afternoons, interacting with pedestrians who are approaching campuses.
  • All emergency systems at all school sites are tested annually.
  • Classroom doors are equipped with Lock-Blocs to help teachers lock and secure doors from the inside of their classrooms.
  • Police, city officials, and school administrators meet regularly to discuss opportunities to improve school safety and security measures.
  • The Police SWAT Team conducts an annual review of each school’s infrastructure and emergency evacuation plan.
  • MBPD Patrol supervisors regularly conduct briefing training with officers to address emergency responses to our schools.
Our schools were not designed during a time when controlled campus access was as important as it is today. However, we are now experiencing a paradigm shift that requires us to address school safety in so many different ways, including school infrastructure, internal and external communication, and emergency planning. We are in the process of planning or implementing the following measures:
  • Manhattan Beach Police Department will provide active shooter training to MBUSD staff. This training will be additional training to the lockdown drills already in place in our schools. MBPD will provide officers for an enhanced lockdown drill/active shooter scenario at Mira Costa High School to include an active shooter scenario.
  • MBPD and MBUSD are jointly conducting perimeter safety assessments of all schools.
  • MBPD and MBUSD are consistently assessing our communication protocols.
  • MBPD and MBUSD provide informational updates to the MBUSD Board of Trustees and the Manhattan Beach City Council.
What can parents, families, and Manhattan Beach citizens do to help?
  • Please stay connected with your children and monitor their social media activities. 
  • Please reach out to the principal, the Police Department, or other trained professionals if you see behavior that has potential for causing self-harm or harm to others.  
  • Please ensure that if you own a firearm, it is locked up – it’s the law!
  • Please cooperate with changes to campus entry and egress plans or any other safety measures that we put in place, and know that while they may cause inconvenience they will contribute to a safer environment for our students.
  • Please take a moment to make sure that children understand that any school threat, regardless of the intention, may result in serious criminal and civil charges, and life-long consequences.
  • If you hear or see something, say something! Please report safety concerns to your school or to the Manhattan Beach Police Department.
Safety is everyone's responsibility. By working together and communicating openly – and especially by talking with and listening to our students – we will continue to keep our schools safe.

Thank you,
Michael D. Matthews, MBUSD Superintendent of Schools
Derrick Abell, MBPD Chief of Police

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