Some McHenry County schools increase police presence Thursday after Florida school shooting

Sarah Nader file photo –
District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid
Sarah Nader file photo – District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid

ALGONQUIN – Some McHenry County schools had an increased police presence in school buildings Thursday after Wednesday’s massacre at a Florida high school.

A former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, killing at least 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut.

All three Algonquin-based District 300 high schools and Woodstock School District 200 buildings had more police than normal onsite Thursday.

Algonquin Deputy Chief Ryan Markham said that while there is no threat to the schools, extra police presence helps ease people’s minds.

“It isn’t in response to any specific threat, but it’s a proactive step,” Markham said. “After an event like what occurred yesterday, everyone is tense, and seeing additional presence helps to give them some sense of peace of mind that we’re there and we’re keeping an eye on all the students.”

Markham said that the Algonquin Police Department had one school resource officer and six patrol officers on duty Thursday.

District 200 held a half-day of school because of parent-teacher conferences and had increased police presence at school buildings.

“Student safety is always our utmost concern in Woodstock Community Unit School District 200,” Woodstock School District 200 Director of Communications Kevin Lyons said. “Children deserve the safest possible learning environment.”

Crystal Lake-based School District 155 Director of Communications Shannon Podzimek said school resource officers from the Crystal Lake Police Department and Cary Police Department were at district buildings.

District 300 adheres to guidelines and procedures set by the FBI and other federal agencies, Superintendent Fred Heid said.

Todd Rohlwing, director of student safety with District 300, has more than 27 years of law enforcement and safety experience and served as the district commander for three districts within the Illinois State Police Department, Heid said.

“Todd implements staff planning, practice and drills for various emergencies, and our school staff are well prepared to manage these types of events,” Heid said.

In addition to police presence, counseling and support services are available to all students at any time, Heid said.

“On behalf of the District 300 community, I would like to send my deepest condolences to Broward County,” Heid said.

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