Glenwood Planned Parenthood gets security review
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs’ Planned Parenthood clinic reached out to Glenwood police for a security consultation after a gunman attacked the organization’s Colorado Springs clinic Friday, leaving three people dead and several injured.
Glenwood Police Chief Terry Wilson said he couldn’t give details about the conversation, but said the local facility didn’t make any major security changes outside of heightening awareness of clinic staffers.
“It’s like when there’s a school shooting. All of our schools don’t go on lockdown, but there’s certainly a heightened attention to who’s doing what in the facility,” Wilson said.
Wilson also declined to give any details about Planned Parenthood’s security, not wanting to “make it easy for the nut case” who might consider an attack.
He said the Police Department has worked with the local Planned Parenthood in the past, but nothing more than keeping the occasional anti-abortion protestors gathered outside the clinic informed about where public and private property is.
Local protests don’t make news these days, but Glenwood’s Planned Parenthood clinic drew attention last month after Garfield County commissioners declined to approve a $1,500 grant for cervical cancer screening, saying the organization was too political to receive a human services grant. That led to a crowdfunding effort that raised more than $24,000 for the clinic.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains President and CEO Vicki Cowart told the PI by email Monday that the organization’s clinics are safe and will remain open.
“Our doors are open today, and they will be open tomorrow,” Cowart said. “Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place to ensure that our health centers are safe, supportive, welcoming environments …
“We believe this was an isolated incident, but we are certainly on alert and communicating with local law enforcement everywhere we provide services,” she said.
Cowart declined to say if any other clinics in the region have received direct threats in recent months since new accusations were leveled by abortion foes claiming some Planned Parenthood clinics had engaged in illegal trafficking of fetal tissue.
Planned Parenthood has denied seeking any payments beyond legally permitted reimbursement costs for donating the organs to researchers.
Although Colorado Springs police have not disclosed a motive behind the Friday attack, alleged shooter Robert Lewis Dear reportedly told authorities “no more baby parts” during a rambling statement after being arrested for the shooting.
The attack left three dead, including University of Colorado-Colorado Springs campus Officer Garret Swasey, 44, and two civilians, Jennifer Markovsky, 36, and Ke’Arre Stewart, 29. Nine others were injured. The three people slain leave behind six children among them.
Cowart said clinic security plans are constantly being assessed and changed in coordination with local law enforcement.
“Our staff are trained to react to active shooters just as they are trained on responding to a tornado,” she said.
In the case of the Colorado Springs incident, “Our staff acted swiftly, bravely and in accordance to their training,” Cowart said.
Wilson said the Colorado Springs attack is an example of one of the worst scenarios police can encounter: A committed, well-armed person intent on death and destruction.
It will take months to investigate and analyze the agencies’ response to the attack, but seeing that the body count was comparatively low shows they did something really well, said Wilson.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said in these situations he considers “possibility versus probability.”
Officers must train for the possibility of these kinds of attacks, “but the probability is very low that this will happen in our neck of the woods,” he said.
“I’ll be the first to tell you to be aware of your surroundings, be concerned about suspicious behavior,” Vallario added. “If you see something, say something. But don’t let that fear take your life away.”
Active shooter scenarios are a top priority during an officer’s training, said Wilson and Vallario, pointing to a recent large-scale active shooter training at Glenwood Springs High School. That training also integrated teachers and school administrators.
Wilson said the best way that teachers or anyone else caught up in an active shooter situation can help is to understand law enforcement’s process.
With mass shootings becoming more frequent, the job of law enforcement officers has become more difficult, Wilson said. “And at the same time we have an outcry for a softer, gentler police force,” he added.
Post Independent reporter Ryan Summerlin contributed to this report.
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