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Milford School Security Under Review

Milford officials are re-evaluating security at local schools, after 26 children and adults were fatally shot in a Connecticut elementary school.

As an immediate step to reassure parents, teachers and children, police were stationed in every school in Milford this week.

Principals instituted new security measures, requiring school visitors to make appointments to see teachers or other personnel, and advance notice for parents to dismiss their children early.

Locks and windows were checked on all classrooms, to make sure they function properly.

What happens to improve school security following the Christmas break — which begins at the close of school Friday — is still being considered. Some of the measures taken this week could easily be continued, Superintendent Robert Tremblay said Monday, on the WBZ Radio Nightside program, including requiring people to make appointments before arriving at schools.

"There is really no cost to that," Tremblay said, on the program. "It's a matter of putting it in place."

The School Committee meets Thursday, for a regularly scheduled meeting. The agenda will be amended to provide an overview of school security, said committee chairman Patrick Holland. The full committee will review points made in agreeing to step up police presence at schools this week.

Plainclothes detectives and police are in the buildings, as well as a uniformed officer outside each school, said Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin. The increased security continues after the buildings close this week, and is being covered mostly through overtime.

"I don't want parents to worry; you send kids to schools, you're assuming they're safe," O'Loughlin said.

After Christmas vacation, police will continue patrols at the schools, including at dismissals, O'Loughlin said Monday, but his department cannot sustain the presence this week. He estimated the additional expense this week at $20,000.

"It's not something I can do for a prolonged period," he said.

Up until this week, Milford had two uniformed officers assigned to the schools. One stays mostly at Milford High School, while the second officer rotates among the remaining five schools.

Holland, the school committee chairman, said the meeting Sunday was led by O'Loughlin and Tremblay, and included a review of the current policies in place in all the buildings, including lockdown procedures in the event of an intruder. 

Milford Schools for several years have had security cameras and locked entrance doors, as well as a system called Lobby Guard, which requires visitors to identify themselves before being buzzed in to the building by an attendant. Visitors are required to produce a photo identification and wear an identification sticker. Schools do not have metal detectors, which screen people as they enter through a main entrance.

The main thrust of the meeting Sunday was to let the building principals know what security steps would be taken this week, and get police and school personnel on the same page, Holland said, as students returned to school. 

Requiring appointments for visitors was one way to immediately account for adults in the building. He visited three schools on Monday: Brookside and Memorial elementary schools and Milford High School, and saw people being turned away by staff for not having appointments.

"We don't want to encourage anyone to come to a school building unannounced," Holland said.

Marin Dolan December 18, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Maybe its time for the Security Director position to be reinstated and someone hired?
Milfud December 18, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I was thinking the same thing. Security Director seems like a valuable position about now.

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