After mass shooting, more security at Manatee County schools

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Manatee County Sheriff's Office outlines how to survive an active shooter situation in this video.

Additional deputies, police officers and school administrators were out at Manatee County Schools on Thursday morning, a day after 17 students were shot and killed at a Broward County high school.

Manatee County Schools Superintendent Diana Greene reached out to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and Bradenton Police Department on Wednesday for additional deputies and officers Thursday, school spokesman Mike Barber said. There were no reported threats against schools in Manatee County, but officers will remain close to schools for the rest of the week.

A message from Greene about the increased law enforcement presence was sent out to parents and staff Wednesday night, Barber said.

The superintendent’s message stated, in part:

“There has not been any reported threat against any Manatee County School, however because this incident took place so close to our home, I have reached out to local law enforcement officials and they have agreed to have an increased presence near and around our schools for the rest of this week. Please remember we have School Resource Officers in all of our middle and high schools and we have School Resource Officers that rotate among our elementary schools. In addition, I have instructed all of our school principals and staffs to be extra alert for any unusual activities and to review our school and district security procedures. Sometimes events like this can create fear or anxiety in students. Please tell your child or student that we have counselors and professionals who they can speak with if needed. Again, there are no direct threats against our students or schools, but we are increasing our level of alertness due to today’s tragedy.”

The message included extending “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and families in Broward County.

In addition to the extra officers, school administrators were instructed to increase their presence at the county’s elementary schools. Barber said this was because a group of school resource officers are rotated between the elementary schools, rather than having one officer at each school like the middle and high schools in the county.

Barber said he was at Prine Elementary School shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday morning as part of the increased administrative presence and a deputy was stationed on campus.

Students and staff at Manatee County schools perform lockdown drills multiple times a year, on a regular basis, according to Barber, adding a security office oversees security protocols. He could not elaborate on the drills because of security protocol.

Authorities have arrested 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz on 17 counts of premeditated murder in the fatal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday. Cruz was booked into jail early Thursday morning and made his first court appearance later Thursday.

A school lockdown is a precautionary measure issued in response to a direct or nearby threat. It requires staff and students to respond quickly and comply with rules. Here’s how it often works.

Sara Nealeigh: 941-745-7081, @saranealeigh