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MUSD plays host to public safety orientation

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MUSD plays host to public safety orientation

Retired Manteca police chief Charlie Halford, left, and former Manteca public information officer Rex Osborn of California Safe Schools answer questions from Manteca Unified personnel.


POSTED January 24, 2014 1:32 a.m.

The time to plan is before something happens – not after.

The December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown Connecticut that left 20 children and six adult staff members dead. The 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. The 2013 summer Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park. And closer to home, the August 1998 Tracy tire fire at a dump that held 7 million illegally stored tires that burned for two years and resulted in $16.2 million worth of cleanup. And right here in Manteca, the devastating New Year’s floods of 1997-1998.

How to prepare for such catastrophes, manmade or wrought by the wrath of Mother Nature, was the focus of the public safety orientation Thursday morning at the Manteca Unified School District’s Regional Environmental Studies Center. The relatively small Gen7 building drew a large gathering of safety personnel of all disciplines, ranging from local to regional and even national jurisdictions.

The attendance was a Who’s Who among emergency first responders. They included the chiefs of police of Manteca, Lathrop and Stockton; the fire chiefs of the City of Manteca Fire Department and Lathrop-Manteca Fire District; San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore, Amtrak District Commander and Captain James J. Martino; FBI representatives; fire and police personnel from the Defense Logistics Agency, formerly Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop; Manteca Ambulance District; and the Army National Guard, among others.

California Safe Schools was represented by retired Manteca police chief Charlie Halford and retired Manteca sergeant Ralph Collin.

The discussion on the above examples of disasters and deadly shooting incidents revolved around the subject of preparedness, assessment and evaluation of potential safety risks, laying out safety and emergency plans in anticipation of disasters, the importance of communication under “controlled chaos” scenarios, plus many other related issues.

“Plans are only best when practiced,” said Rex Osborn of California Safe Schools emphasizing the importance of the all-too-worn-out cliché, practice makes perfect.

The above public-safety issues were presented to administrators of Manteca Unified that included high school and elementary school principals, district Superintendent Jason Messer, and other district personnel.

California Safe Schools representatives Osborn, Halford and Colin were there to introduce to district administrators and personnel the latest in safety assessments. The discussion was likewise intended to bring public safety up to speed with the district’s safety assessment and standardization that is currently in place under the district’s contract with California Safe Schools.

The California Safe Schools team, among other things, helps “create crisis response plans or evaluate existing plans to reassure” students, staff, and members of the community that a school district, college, university or commercial establishment, is prepared for those disasters and emergencies. The team also evaluates crisis plans and then makes recommendations which include training and other detailed suggestions.

For more details about California Safe Schools, visit

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