A year after Sandy Hook massacre, local schools say they're safer

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. – Saturday will mark a year since 20 students and six adults were shot and killed in the Sandy Hook massacre.

Police said the lone gunman, Adam Lanza, entered the school and started shooting.

School districts in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia say they learned a lesson from the tragedy.

Glynn County School District Police Chief Rod Ellis said the district is a lot safer now than it was a year ago. He said simple things such as locking classroom doors were not being done regularly.

It's an easy deterrent against violence and can make a big difference, Ellis said. But last year, he said, his school district would have failed the test.

"We were striving for a 10, but we were probably a five," Ellis said.

It's a lesson learned following the Sand Hook attack.

"Once he was able to get inside a school, he was not able to get inside a locked door," Ellis said.

He said since then, his 25 officers have increased safety measures throughout the 18 schools in the district.

This year, officers conducted a threat assessment, reviewing areas around each school to determine what areas could be easy access points for trouble.

They've also included mandatory crisis drills each month, including a yearly training course for faculty and staff.

"We've done things like lockdown drills, blocked access drills, reverse evacuation," Ellis said.

He said due to budget constraints, there are no officers stationed at the elementary schools, but one is constantly patrolling at least one of those schools at any given time -- a new measure the district didn't have until this year.

Ellis said parents can help with this effort. He said they should keep emergency contact information up to date at the school.

And if there is a crisis at a child's school, it's best for parents to go to the police staging area instead of going to the school itself. Ellis said those staging locations would be made available on the Glynn County Schools website.