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California shooting: Teacher talks down shooter, allowing students to escape

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After the victim was transported to a hospital, police searched and secured the building, and then parents were alerted that it was on lockdown. Later in the day, they were able to bring identification and pick their students up from the auditorium.

Just two hours before the shooting, staff at the school had been reviewing their emergency lockdown procedure, said interim superintendent William McDermott. Training and reviews of school safety are a continuous process in the district, he said.

The schools and police have a good relationship in Taft, said Taft Police Chief Ed Whiting. Normally an armed resource officer is at the high school, but he wasn’t there Thursday morning, because he had been snowed in.

About half of California’s high schools, 16 percent of its middle schools, and 5 percent of its elementary schools have police or resource officers on campus, and 83 percent of the officers at high schools are armed, according to a survey of 300 school districts by EdSource.org.

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, many lawmakers have proposed placing more armed officers in schools. Sixty-four percent of Americans support increasing a police presence in schools, while 29 percent oppose it, according to a Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll conducted Jan. 2-7. Eight percent of respondents said they were “not sure.”

Thursday’s incident – in which the teacher was unarmed – will probably factor into the debate over proposals by the National Rifle Association and some lawmakers in various states to allow trained teachers to have concealed guns in their classrooms.

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