Boccia on Mammoth schools: ‘I’m not going to build prisons’


Schools superintendent, police chief, review school safety plans

Mammoth schools superintendent Rich Boccia said this week that he and Police Chief Dan Watson are reviewing safety procedures in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre that took the lives of 20 kids and six adults.

Boccia, addressing the Town Council Wednesday evening, said neither he nor Watson will over-react.

“Our schools are safe,” Boccia reassured the council. “I’m not going to build prisons; I’m not going to build walls around our schools that kids can’t get in.

“We want the parents of our students to feel welcome; we’re going to do what we need to protect our kids and the community at large.

“We’re reviewing our safety plans at this point. I’m very grateful to the Chief. We started Friday afternoon and talked on Saturday and Sunday.”

Watson, earlier in the week said he was shaken when he heard the news of the shooting deaths of the 6- and 7-year olds, along with the six adults.

“I had the same reaction as every parent and grandparent in the country had,” Watson said softly in an interview on Friday afternoon, Dec. 14, shortly before he and Boccia issued a widely-disseminated joint statement on the mass killing of the elementary school students.

“This is a horrible, horrible tragedy that affects everyone,” Watson said.

He acknowledged that aside from those directly affected, perhaps none feel it more than a police chief in a small, bucolic town—a town like Newton; a town like Mammoth.

“We live in a beautiful town,” he said, “where as far as violent crime goes, it’s less likely to happen.”

Watson paused and folded the fingers of both hands together.

“It scares the hell out of me,” he said. “No one is prepared to handle the magnitude of what happened out there. We need to realize that horrible things can happen anywhere.

“No one expected 9/11; for a town like that, this was their 9/11.”

Watson said he was reminded of the helplessness on the part of police officers during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992.

A member of the Los Angeles Police Department, Watson led a task force into South Central L.A., but neither he nor his men could do anything to stop a six-day riot that took 53 lives and resulted in more than 2,000 injuries.

“We are here to protect the public,” Watson said. “During those days and nights, I felt a total sense of frustration and disappointment that we were unable to protect them.”

Boccia said he was still in a state of shock, five days after the shootings.

“Given what happened in Aurora, and you think about Oregon and the school in Newtown, it’s just unbelievable these days the things that are going on.

“It’s inherent upon us in this small, cozy town I call paradise, to be aware of the stress this community has to share.”

In his ending remarks before the council, Boccia said,

“It’s about respect, support and now. I