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New Safety Plan in Place for Naugatuck Schools

The borough school security director puts together a 20-page security plan in an attempt to prevent future tragedies.

 

Naugatuck parent Phil Zembruski pleaded with education officials Thursday to do everything in their power to keep children safe at school. 

“Look at every avenue. Look at every possibility. And when you think you’ve looked enough, look again,” he told the Board of Education.

Zembruski is one of thousands of parents in Naugatuck and millions across the state and country who are wondering just how safe their schools are, and how they can be safer, following the tragedy in Sandy Hook on Dec. 14.

Moments after the Naugatuck school board held a moment of silence Thursday for the 20 children and six educators killed on that day, Superintendent John Tindall-Gibson explained part of how the borough will work to further secure schools.

The superintendent handed out a 20-page addendum to the school security handbook that was developed by Director of Security Edward Bozenski. The document, which was accepted by the board, is broken down into five sections:

  • Responding to an active shooter
  • How to be aware of the warning signs
  • Developing a survival mindset
  • What to report and to whom
  • Five phases of an active shooter

The document, which will be posted on the school district's website, not only discusses the protocol for what to do when a shooter enters a building, but also how to identify students who may potentially act out in the future.

Tindall-Gibson said he wants all school staff to be aware of the five phases of an active shooter and to think about “what they should do should an emergency like this occur.”

He said an architect said one of the more interesting statements he’s heard since the shooting: "You don’t prepare for potential future crisis by thinking about what happened in the past, you have to think in almost unimaginable terms."

Therefore, the school system needs to think about every potential scenario and do all it can to prevent future incidents, Tindall-Gibson said. 

The document describes seven phases of responding to an active shooter including 1. evacuation - go to a designated safe place; 2. lockdown - lockdown in the closest safe place possible, remain quiet, silence your cell phone and stay out of view of windows and doors; 3. how to respond when law enforcement arrives - remain calm and follow officers' instructions; 4. information to provide to 911 operator includes location of shooter, number of shooters, physical description of shooter; 5. Areas of refuge - there shall be two areas of refuge, located on oppposite sides of the school; 6. schools should create an emergency lockdown plan and conduct training exercises; 7. Components of training exercises should include training on making an intercom announcement, how to react quickly, how to identify gunshots.

Safety Steps

Some of the steps that have already been taken in Naugatuck include putting a security booth at the front steps of Naugatuck High School. A security guard sits in the booth and asks for identification from all non-students who want to enter the building. New security measures, such as swipe cards to get into rooms, will be implemented at the newly constructed NHS, which will start to be developed next year. 

Meanwhile, all schools have become more diligent with safety measures, including making sure all entrances are secured, educators are aware of safety protocol and teachers are continuing to look out for children who display signs of emotional distress. 

The school system has also reached out to the Naugatuck Police Department, which has agreed to have patrol officers enter the schools on a regular basis during their shifts.

“We want the officers to become aware of the layout of the schools and to get to know the students and staff,” said school board member Jim Scully, chairman of the facilities subcommittee.

Scully said that while Naugatuck will do all it can to keep children safe, all communities must face the sobering fact that sometimes these incidents may not be preventable.

“Some of this stuff, no matter what you do, it’s unfortunately going to happen,” he said. “You can’t make these schools prisons.”

Tindall-Gibson echoed some of those remarks.

He said architects who discussed school safety at a statewide forum early this week said that “in this particular incident, the loss of life was going to occur and there was probably no way to avoid that.”

The archictect said that, "had there been an armed officer in the building, there probably still would have been people who died,” Tindall-Gibson said. “So the emphasis is how to avoid that and how to minimize it when it occurs. ...You cannot fortify a school enough but what you can do is make it a good working environment to address these things the best they can be addressed."

Tindall-Gibson, who is normally pragmatic at board meetings, became somewhat emotional when discussing just why Naugatuck has to have this discussion.

“We can’t say enough just how tragic the events in Newtown were,” he said. “I still can’t wrap my mind around someone actually doing that.”

Scott January 11, 2013 at 12:27 PM
I have a problem with the rationale here. Don't put any armed personnel at the schools because they may not stop all damage. Even if they didn't stop some maniac completely, they would distract, and slow down an attacker giving other responders time. Instead we'll enact some feel good laws that will have zero impact on these events. Brilliant!
Fr January 11, 2013 at 01:55 PM
How amazing and sad we have to talk about schools like they're "fortresses". The world goes a bit crazier each day. Crazier still is ANY reluctance to address this situation in a sane, rationale way (leaving politics and more insanity out of the discussion). If we as a nation don't learn from Sandy Hook and enact MEANINGFUL change, we are truly doomed.
BART January 11, 2013 at 02:17 PM
How awful is it that these things have to be considered in our schools. Developing a survival mindset? It disgusts me that we are forced to seriously think that way. School kids and/or teachers should never have to consider their survival options. Its becoming quite the sick world that we live in.
Citizen January 11, 2013 at 04:21 PM
We're forced to think that way because that the way things are. It's a shame that Sandy Hook happened...columbine should have been all we needed to get this going years ago. The concept of armed security or police in the schools should not be so hard to live with...We have them in the streets to protect us whats so hard about having them inside a school to protect our kids.
brutus January 11, 2013 at 05:28 PM
I HIGHLY disagree with this lockdown policy. if a lunatic firing at will enters my kids' school, I want them to RUN! why is it a good policy to lock down a school AFTER a shooter has entered it? there's a shooter in a school, and we keep the kids locked in? genius.
Bernadette Nata January 11, 2013 at 06:48 PM
I applaud Naugatuck for taking the first step to implement better security measures for their schools. Wonderful suggestions. My suggestion is placing emergency police concealed call buttons at the front lobby and offices only known to working personnel. Also, monitoring cameras at all entrances and exits.. The outside booth in my opinion, is an easy target. The front area is too large of an area to cover. A booth ,might confine the ARMED security guard to an easy attack. I like the idea of the front entrance resembling the one at (City Hill School.). It needs the armed security guard, buzzard ring and concealed emergency buttons.The ARMED guard monitors theschool .The guard should be called when verification at the lobby is needed. The raising hands method once receptionist pushes button for entry, should be done for quick pat down. The Newtown, killer needed help from whatever influence was troubling him. Was he bullied in school on a DAILY basis? Did school trigger bad memories for him? KILLING is not an excuse. Obviously, he was disturbed.but It was too late! Nobody addressed the problem from his school,days, home, or social life.What makes one go to a school and kill everyone?. We will never know the answer but we can prevent it or at least attempt to prevent a tragedy of this magnitude or from any magnitude from reoccurring again. Today many troubled angry people cant differentiate from our REAL world from a video game, movie. RIP to all those innocent victims .
SuperDave January 11, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Good point Brutus. But I think most deranged people will yank on doors, find them locked, and move on as they realize their time is short. So locking down classrooms may work.Schools should also hit an alarm, the kind that the military uses, that is so loud you can't even think straight. Once the alarm goes off the mind gets scrambled and the original horrible task gets forgotten. In fact, when alarms sound these nutjobs tend to shoot themselves immediately. It is too bad our leaders allowed the inclusion of thousands of guns out there over time. When something is wrong, you never introduce more of it to make it better. Adding more guns to society is a ridiculous notion. The way we are headed the next thing we will see out there are RPG's and hand grenades. And the NRA will say "Now everyone needs RPG's and hand grenades".
Paul Singley January 11, 2013 at 07:02 PM
The first step is evacuation. I believe the second step - to "lock down" - is implemented only if it's impossible to leave. I will get a clarification on that, though. Thanks
James323 April 02, 2013 at 04:16 PM
A maniac still can kill people outside the school, what are the officials talking about?

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