Police Ramp Up Security At Planned Parenthood Facilities

By Staci DaSilva | sdasilva@nexstar.tv

Published 11/30 2015 07:13PM

Updated 11/30 2015 07:13PM

The man accused of killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic made his first court appearance Monday.

Robert Dear, 57, faced a judge by video feed.

Dear was advised he's being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, which could carry a life sentence or the death penalty.

Authorities say Dear fatally shot three people, including a police officer, in a nearly six hour long standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Friday.

Police say, after Dear surrendered, he allegedly made rambling, hostile comments about Planned Parenthood.

His next court appearance is December 9th.

The shooting is encouraging law enforcement to ramp up security at Planned Parenthood facilities throughout the country, including our area.

St. Albans Police Chief Gary Taylor is concerned about copycat or lone wolf attacks on Planned Parenthood.

“In light of what happened in Colorado Springs over the weekend, I felt compelled to sit down and review our security practices regarding Planned Parenthood here in the city,” he said.

He says that was the first thing his staff discussed Monday morning.

The St. Albans Planned Parenthood location has always been regularly patrolled by police.

But now, it's getting extra attention.

“We stepped up enforcement by increasing patrols and making sure we're doing security checks,” Chief Taylor said. “Beyond that, I really wouldn't want to compromise our efforts by suggesting what it is we're doing."

St. Albans is one of 12 Planned Parenthood sites in Vermont.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England released this statement regarding security after the shooting:

"Our top priority is the safety of our patients and staff. The situation in Colorado is tragic, and our hearts go out to everyone involved. Here in Vermont and across the country, Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record…"We don't yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust."

Burlington police officers spoke to staff at the Queen City location and vow to stop by and be more visible whenever possible.

The same goes for New York. This weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo launched new security measures at Planned Parenthood sites in New York.

State Police visited the more than 60 Planned Parenthood clinics, including in Plattsburgh, to assist with security and emergency planning measures.

And back in St. Albans, Chief Gary Taylor says these measures are just an unfortunate sign of the times.

“Not just at sites like Planned Parenthood, but god, we've seen the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre incident, there have been a number of school incidents, what happened in Paris, that has to be on the forefront of your mind,” he said.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says he's watching the Planned Parenthood offices in his state closely.

He then pointed his finger at Republicans saying, “It shouldn’t surprise us” that things like this happen.

He says he hopes Republican presidential candidates will change now their rhetoric around Planned Parenthood.

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