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School Lockdown Procedures Already Updated, Police Chief Says

New lockdown procedure was already in the works, further security review being conducted.

After both Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian and Bernards Township Police Chief Brian Bobowicz agreed that police and school officials work together closely on school security, the chief said at Monday's school board meeting that effort includes an updated lockdown procedure at township schools.

In fact, Bobowicz said that "plan B," the additional lockdown response, had just been finished on Tuesday last week, prior to Friday's shooting of 20 elementary school children and six adults on a rampage in a school in Newtown, Conn.

The first day that students returned to township schools since then, both Bobowicz and school officials said police were a visible presence at arrival and dismissal times at township schools.

Along with thanking Markarian for communications from the school district, parent Colleen Heinemann said seeing a police car in her child's school parking lot "made me feel safe."

Nevertheless, Heinemann said she wanted reassurance that every measure is being taken to assure students' safety.

Markarian said district schools practice safety protocols, and are installed with interior and exterior cameras, as well as buzzers for entry. He said all schools regularly practice safety drills, and district administrators have walkie-talkies for communications along with phones.

However, the superintendent said, "We continue to review our current measures," and added there would be a meeting of administrators on Tuesdays to look for other ways to improve security.

Bobowicz spoke at the end of Monday's school board meeting. He told the public and board members that the police force within the township includes officers who are members of the county SWAT team, with specialized training, and that police vehicles are equipped with high-powered rifles.

"I took your concerns to heart," Bobowicz told Heinemann. He said township schools are safe. He said he recently had reviewed lockdown plans at the Oak Street Elementary School.

Bobowicz said that local police and school officials had already devised a "best practices" lockdown procedure, working with police and staff. He said he could not discuss all of the details of such a plan.

He said that police in general are waiting for a final report on what happened at the school in Connecticut. However, he did note that the school there had a buzzer and security system in place, as well as a very heroic staff.

Emily Benjamin December 18, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I think the security and video cameras should be updated to include a full body shot of a person desiring entry to school. A head shot is not sufficient. A full body shot could possibly reveal a hidden bulky object, such as a gun, a suspicious looking bag that could carry a weapon, or odd-looking clothing worn by the person. An airport security X-ray device would be the only way to prevent a weapon from entering the building. I don't know if there are advanced technological devices that can scan a person from outside the main entrance, detect the form of a gun, and show the results to the office attendant inside.
n December 19, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Who's going to pay for this?
esther January 10, 2013 at 03:40 AM
Who's going to pay for this? We are going to pay for this. The safety of our children and the people we employ to educated them and ultimately keep them safe is priceless. I think that the parents of Newtownn, if they had the chance, to put in advanced tech and full body shot cameras, they would have and would give anything now to change the outcome of that attack. But neither of these methods would have stopped the shooter. He shot his way into the school by blowing out the glass. The teachers/principal did everything they were trained to do - and MORE. How about bullet proof glass, heavy reinforced doors at the school entrances, and classrooms...We as a society whether in the small community of Bernards Township or the larger community of the United States have many decisions and choices to make. What's is worth to you 'n' to keep your children in schools safe? Can you put a price tag on that? I can't.
n January 10, 2013 at 04:38 PM
@esther, Then send your kids to Somerset County Jail and lock the doors on them til they are 18, because that is the type of building you want. There are no guarantees in life, your child has a better chance of being harmed by a family member. Maybe the state should just remove children from their homes and raise them in camps. So I guess you still want to protect your kids from everything & everyone?
Emily Benjamin January 11, 2013 at 01:26 AM
Hi Esther, Thanks for your reply. You're correct when you say that advanced tech and full body shot cameras could not have stopped the shooter. I had stopped reading the news details and when I had written my comment I was not aware that his bullets had demolished the glass. Your idea for bullet proof glass is a good suggestion. Why not? Homeowners update doors, windows and locks for increased safety; there is no reason why schools should not do the same. And, they do quite often when the need arises for things such as special assisted entrances, curbs, etc. As culture and society changes, for better or for worse, schools and public institutions must adjust, accommodate and reassess the issues of safety and how to improve it for future generations. I do believe that without increased gun control structural remedies to building design is just a bandaid. The two must be addressed simultaneously. And, you are correct again when you say a price tag cannot be placed on the cost of security - just a small drop of the trillions of dollars spent on the international war on terrorism should be spent to make schools secure from killers. If public buildings such as the Pentagon receive millions of dollars to increase security, why should not schools receive money to do the same?

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