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Sonoma County police boosting presence near schools after Texas shooting

A day after the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school in which 19 children and two teachers were killed, two Sonoma County police agencies said they are increasing patrols near local schools.

The Santa Rosa Police Department announced it will increase its presence at area schools for the rest of the academic year, while the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety said it was doing the same at schools in its area on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s gunfire at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since 2012 when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

Interim Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan, in a Facebook post made Wednesday, described what happened in Uvalde as an “unimaginable tragedy.”

A message from Interim Chief of Police John Cregan: Our nation is reeling after the unimaginable tragedy of the school...

Posted by Santa Rosa Police on Wednesday, May 25, 2022

“This issue is deeply personal to me as I have children in our local school district,” Cregan said in his post. “As a father and as the chief of police, I promise to do everything possible to keep our children safe and protected as they continue their educational journey here in Santa Rosa.”

Classes at Santa Rosa City Schools run through the first week of June and Santa Rosa police officers, Cregan said, will be stationed at or near schools to “ease the anxiety of students, school staff members and parents.”

Officers will greet students and ensure parents, children and teachers they will be in the area to keep them safe, he told The Press Democrat. Officers will continue “high visibility patrols” near the schools.

Cregan said he checked on his daughters Tuesday night and spoke to them about what they should do if they ever have to deal with an active school shooter.

“It is sad that parents have to have these tough conversations with our children, but it is absolutely essential that we prepare our children so they can act in a time of crisis,” he said.

Cregan’s post came hours after the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety announced that its officers and firefighters were sent to Rohnert Park elementary schools on Wednesday to provide extra patrols in the wake of the Texas shooting.

They did so “to show their support for the community,” officials said in an announcement over Nixle.

"We made sure we had either a police vehicle or fire vehicle at every school just kind of welcoming the kids and hopefully giving them a sense of safety,“ said Public Safety Director Tim Mattos.

“We also hoped that when parents dropped off their kids it gave them a little more peace,” he added.

The extra patrols were not scheduled to continue after Wednesday, according to Mattos.

Normally, department leaders urge police officers to patrol around schools each morning around the time when students get dropped off, Mattos noted. The department also has a designated school resource officer that checks in at campuses around the city.

Cregan said parents should talk to their children and reach out to local school administrators about emergency preparation and planning.

“We must all be prepared for any threat that may arise on our school campuses,” he said. “This preparation comes with planning and training for all staff.”

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Pera at matthew.pera@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Matt__Pera.

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