The Ottumwa Courier

December 19, 2012

Tragedy and safety: An officer's perspective

Guest Editorial

Jim Clark

OTTUMWA — As the Chief of Police for the City of Ottumwa, as well as a grandfather and the father of a kindergartner, I am deeply shocked and saddened by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Please join me in offering our thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families, and all those affected by this unspeakable crime.

In the days ahead, this tragedy ... will undoubtedly result in citizens throughout our community to wonder about the safety of their children and whether it is safe for students and staff at our local schools. I can assure each of you that the Ottumwa Police Department has a close working relationship with our School District, and I am confident that each one of our schools is safe. With a vision to provide the safest learning environment possible, the Department and School District have partnered together to have two officers assigned full-time to Ottumwa High School, one officer assigned full-time to Evans Middle School, and one officer to instruct the DARE curriculum, which provides a daily presence of an officer in the elementary schools.

All local first responders train on how to properly and effectively respond to an active shooter incident. Additionally, the Ottumwa Community School District regularly conducts intruder drills in each school. Although we pray it never happens in Ottumwa, I believe our local public safety agencies and schools have been diligent in preparing and training for such a tragedy.

As I stated earlier, I have a 6- year-old daughter who attends kindergarten in the Ottumwa Community School District. If I did not feel it was safe for her, I would pull her out of her school and place her in another district. However, I feel the Ottumwa Community School District provides a safe environment and my daughter will continue to attend Ottumwa schools.

Please remember that the Ottumwa Police Department and the Ottumwa Community School District will always take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our children.

Jim Clark

Ottumwa Police Chief