LPD Chief, LPS Superintendent Say City's Schools Are Safe After Uvalde Shooting

May 25, 2022, midnight ·

LPD chief gets emotional as she answers a question from Lincoln media
"The men and women of the Lincoln Police Department stand with the Uvalde, Texas community," LPD Chief Teresa Ewins said at Wednesday's press conference. (Photo by Will Bauer, Nebraska Public Media News)

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Tuesday’s mass shooting at a Texas school prompted the Lincoln Police Department to station more officers around Lincoln schools Wednesday morning in a move for support rather than safety concerns.

Chief Teresa Ewins said, after hearing the news Tuesday, LPD sent extra police officers to schools Wednesday morning – the last day of the school year. She said LPD made the decision to support its teachers, students and parents.

"That's why you saw us out there," she said at a Wednesday morning press briefing.

LPS superintendent Steve Joel started his day at Lux Middle School this morning, where there was an additional officer.

Steve Joel headshot
Dr. Steve Joel (courtesy LPS)

"Yesterday was another one of those days that we dread in America," Joel said. "Whenever something of that magnitude occurs, it impacts every single part of the country – and Lincoln is no exception."

LPD and LPS recently completed what’s called a table top training – a process that simulates an active shooter scenario with both the schools and the police force, Joel said. The soon-to-be retired superintendent said the school system’s threat assessment is top notch – and he’s confident the program would respond as best it could to a situation like Tuesday’s.

"That partnership is so good that our schools are safe, our community safe, and we'll continue to respond as we have to respond when these kinds of things occur," he said.

Despite the situation, Joel said Wednesday morning felt fairly normal in the two schools visited. Of course, Joel and LPS staff heard concern from parents, but overall students were excited for the last day of class.

"It's horrible to say that we've learned from all these other incidents to improve our processes," Ewins said. "It's sad for me to say, but schools do have plans."

Since Joel and Ewins started their respective careers, the pair have noticed a change in school safety. After a long career with LPS and Grand Island Public Schools, Joel remembered it used to be pretty easy for a grandparents to walk into a school. Now, that’s certainly not the case because of situations like Uvalde.

"I think society's changed, and I think we've had to really work much harder to ensure safety for all students," he said. "That's a big responsibility that we have at Lincoln Public Schools, but it's also very comforting to know that, you know, we have great partners and the Lincoln Police Department as well."

Ewins, on the other hand, remembered her childhood, where, she says she wasn't thinking about a shooter entering a school to hurt her.

"I was thinking about, you know, what am I doing on the weekend, and when's my next soccer game," the police chief said. "You know, kids don't get to – they don't have that luxury."

In the chief's eyes, social media has changed the way today’s children think and act. At Wednesday's briefing she asked the community and parents to pay attention to what their children are exposed to online because social media can be more impactful than what parents say, she said.

Overall, the chief said she’s sad for today’s youth.

"It makes me very angry that we’re in this place right now in this society," Ewins said "And that fact that it’s happening time – time and again – and we’re not learning. We should be learning lessons from each time, and then not allowing it to happen again. But that’s not what’s happening."