Decatur Schools On Heightened Alert Friday, No Problems Reported

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DECATUR, Ala, (WHNT) - For school administrators across the country and across the Tennessee Valley, the horror of the Connecticut tragedy is especially sobering. One school superintendent told us his heart was with the victims, but his mind went immediately to his own school system and the thousands of students he's responsible for.

"And I start thinking about these parents, my own child, and the devastation you would feel as a community, so prayers to those folks. You do immediately begin to think about your own system and precautions that you have," Decatur School Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols tells WHNT News 19.

It is at times like these when Nichols will feel the full weight of his responsibilities. No problems in any Decatur schools today, but the key word throughout the day was vigilence.

 "We're on a heightened alert to be even more aware than we are on a normal day to avoid any type of copy-cat situation or something like that," says Dwight Satterfield, Schools Security Director for Decatur City Schools.

"Well thats why we immediately start having conversations with our SRO's, they're out in the schools, with our administrators," Nichols said.

Police patrols in and around Decatur city schools were also stepped up today, just as a precaution. 

Decatur High School senior Joey Manchester tells us, "I think it's pretty bad, I mean, for a guy to do that, but see I'm not sure what was fully wrong with him. But I do understand that things in life happen and you've gotta just keep pushing forward.

We asked Decatur High School 10th grader Matthew Winans if he felt safe at school. "Yeah, I feel pretty safe. We've got an SRO officer here, packin' you know, a weapon on him at all times. I think it's pretty good that we have someone here to protect us."

Officials say typically the key to school security lies within the students themselves, and the knowledge that reporting a threat from someone might prevent the next tragedy.

Dr. Nichols tells us many Decatur parents called his office today asking for reassurance that schools were safe. He says some suggested they go into a lock-down status. Nichols tells us the security was beefed up, but not to the point of frightening the students.