CHICAGO — As more than 3,000 CPS students returned to the classroom on Monday, the Chicago Police Department activated its emergency operations center to handle any threats.
“Everyone is ensuring the safety of our CPS students to and from school,” said CPD Deputy Chief Gabriella Shemash.
School safety became a renewed concern after the Uvalde shooting in Texas in May and the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park.
“When you attempt to prepare for the inevitable, we were able to put together a drill to simulate the potential violence that could happen in a school,” said CPD Bureau Chief Ernest Cato.
Parents voiced their concern for student safety outside Wendell Phillips Academy in Bronzeville, where a gunman opened fire last year just as school dismissed for the day. The shooting happened on Oct. 12 as a security guard opened the east door. The shooting seriously wounded the 45-year-old security guard and a 14-year-old student.
“I always tell mine that if something like that happens, run to the washroom and get in a stall, lock the bathroom door to keep themselves safe,” CPS parent Regina Humphrey told WGN News.
At the Weekly Chicago police briefing Monday, Chicago Police said the department staged its active shooter drill last week with officers at Julian High School on the Far South Side to ensure the safety of schools in the event of a shooting.
“Communicating with the other agencies like the fire department in paramedics if they were to happen,” Cato said. “And because we are better prepared, we can respond better and be better prepared.”
Phillips Academy alum and CPD parent Ja’mal Green is one of nine candidates for Chicago mayor. He said his sons in elementary school and the hundreds of thousands of students in the city deserve to be protected.
“We must do our part,” Green said. “I appreciate CPD doing the SWAT drills but the reality of the situation is our kids should be focused on their education. Our kids are innocent. They have so much to offer to the world, and the last thing they should be thinking about is if a gunman is going to come into their classrooms, so it’s very unfortunate.”