Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Police Chief Daniel Garcia Cautiously Assure Local Safety in Response to Newtown Shooting

City of Phoenix officials cautiously assured the safety of kids in city schools this afternoon, after 27 people -- including 20 children -- were reportedly shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

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Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia and Mayor Greg Stanton both said local schools are safe for the kids, but both noted that shootings like this do happen.

"Unfortunately, we live in a society where we must be prepared for this type of incident," Garcia said.

He went on to say that city schools are "absolutely" going to be safe, and said there will be an increased police presence at the schools starting Monday, which will continue until they're all on recess for the winter break. Before the kids go back to school after the break, police and school officials will "reassess" the extra cops around schools, Garcia said. He also noted that not every school has a dedicated "school resource officer," but said every school does get covered by officers in the area.

However, Garcia said, "We can't live in fear of this type of incident."

Neither Garcia nor Stanton got political about the incident, but they both stressed the importance of youngsters reporting any weird stuff going on at school.

Stanton said people at the city would have to do some "soul searching" before figuring out "how to best proceed."

"As a large city, we are not immune from anything," Stanton said.

Meanwhile, Garcia said situations similar to the shooting in Connecticut can be avoided -- sometimes -- but reassured media members that PPD's got things pretty well under control.

"We have averted situations similar to this since I've been here," Garcia said (he's been here since May).

Garcia said he wouldn't elaborate, but did say there was an incident in which someone reported a 16-year-old girl carrying knives, and apparently had made some sort of threat. She was arrested without incident, Garcia said.

The overall message from Stanton and Garcia was that city schools are safe. Stanton said his son -- a 5-year-old boy in kindergarten -- will be going back to school on Monday, and encouraged other parents to follow suit.

Meanwhile, reports from the press conference involving Arizona's schools superintendent John Huppenthal don't sound so reassuring.

"The state's top education official said this afternoon it's up to parents and not his agency to ensure that local schools have threat-assessment and violence prevention programs to prevent shootings like the one in Connecticut," reports Capitol Media Services' Howie Fischer.

Huppenthal, a supporter of pro-firearm legislation during his time as a state legislator, reportedly called talk about gun legislation "inappropriate" this afternoon.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley