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.