ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A number of school districts across the region will see increased police presence in the following weeks in the wake of the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since 2012.

Officials from the Rochester Police Department, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Geneva Police Department announced Wednesday that each will step up police patrols, out of an abundance of caution, around respective schools, officials announced Wednesday.

“The notion that it can happen anywhere and at any time, and so it’s important for us to always be alert and vigilant,” said RCSD Chief of Communications Marisol Ramos-Lopez. “We do have a strong relationship with the Rochester Police Department and the city of Rochester. So they were there for us this morning, they will be with us this afternoon, and anytime that we call them.”

“There is an increased presence there. There’s a higher alert, but there’s not too much of a change to what we always do,” said MCSO Lt. Michael Wicks. “It’s always a priority for us to take care of our children.”

Officials from the MCSO say it’s a good idea to have a plan in place and to rehearse the plan under incredible stress to make the drills as “real world” as possible.

Officers also said for people to remember the phrase “Run, Hide, and Fight;” to be familiar with the location and exits, to hide and barricade during an active shooting, and to be physically prepared to do something in the case of an incident.

“So you already have a plan so you just engage that plan,” said Wicks. “Because seconds are vastly important in incidents that the average time is five minutes.”

LCSO Captain of Criminal Investigations Mike Williams said while the increased police presence is comforting, that presence has always been there and will likely always be there.

“We’re lucky here because we have the school resource deputies assigned to the public schools here in the county and the local police departments also have police officers assigned to their schools. So I think the preventative part of it is there every day,” Williams said.

President of Monroe County Council of School Superintendents Bo Wright said districts across the county are taking the day after the shooting as it comes, knowing the effect this tragic event has on students, parents, and staff.

“We are assuring parents we are taking every precaution to ensure safety, letting them know the availability of resources here at school so that if children are struggling to try and process these events…that we have resources to support that,” Wright said.

Wright said all Monroe County school campuses will have an added police presence until the end of the school year.

Sheriff Dougherty with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement:

I understand it is hard to process the events that occurred yesterday in Texas. As a parent, it is our worst fear. I can assure you that as a father of three, I feel what you feel.

Please know that there is currently no known threat in our schools but out of an abundance of caution you will see more Deputy Sheriffs around your schools over the next several weeks. You may see them in marked cars in uniform or unmarked cars in suits. I do not want you to have more concern or anxiety over their presence so please know they are there as a support to you, the kids, the teachers, and the school administrators.”

On Tuesday, a teenage gunman barricaded himself inside a single Texas classroom and “began shooting anyone that was in his way,” killing 21 people, 19 of which were identified as young children.

Officials said the 18-year-old legally brought two AR-style rifles just days before the attack and hinted that an attack could be coming, suggesting that “kids should watch out.”

The shooting came just 10 days after the deaths of 10 Black people at the hands of an 18-year-old man who drove three hours to carry out a racist, live-streamed shooting rampage in Buffalo.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday– that preparation for an active shooter threat is the most important thing people in schools and work centers can do right now.

It boils down to three things: ‘Run, Hide, and Fight’. With ‘Run’ during an active shooter situation, you have to be familiar with your location and exits. If you can, move away from the building and call 911. If you have to hide: Are you hiding in a place that has a window you can get out of? Also– do you have cover? Do you have concealment? Can you barricade a door? Are you physically able to do something like that? If you can’t think and do these things ahead of time, it could spell trouble if one of these shootings happens.

Lieutenant Michael Wicks says to think about these things and plan now. 

“I’ll say this, the preparation needs to happen before. Beforehand. I can’t stress that enough. That is what’s most important. So you already have a plan so you just, you just engage that plan. Because seconds are vastly important in incidents that the average time is five minutes,” says Wicks.

The MCSO has a video here on active shooter situations you can watch here.

Local advocate Melanie Funchess with Ubuntu Village Works spoke with News 8 Tuesday and offered expert guidance on how adults can explain something so tragic to children.  

“We need to be truthful with our child, but we also need to do it in ways that are age-appropriate,” said Funchess.

She says youngsters understand emotions like ‘sad’ and ‘angry’. “So you can explain that someone got very angry and they did a bad thing, and now people are sad,” she said.

“Assuring parents we are taking every precaution to ensure safety letting them know also the availability of resources here at school so that if children are struggling to try and processes these events that we have resources to support that,” said President of Monroe County Council of School Superintendents Bo Wright.


Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that officials from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said schools specifically should have a plan in place for a mass shooting incident. This error has since been corrected, and we apologize for the error.