EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 23, 2013

School security back to normal


According to Riley’s office, there are 540 video cameras with recording capabilities, with about 300 located at the high school.

Drills are performed multiple times each year for various types of emergency, including fire drills, school-wide lock downs and alternate route evacuations.

North Andover Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson said his system did not require security upgrades, but the administration did work with police to “tweak” the safety plan, including instituting the so-called ALICE safety protocol, an acronym that stands for alert, lock down, inform, counter and evacuate.

Hutchinson said the evaluation included some changes to entrances.

“One of things most of us had to review was exit and entry criteria in schools,” he said.

“We had buzzers at most schools. We implemented one more so all schools had some form of buzzing entry.”

North Andover has two school resources officers, one stationed at the high school and one assigned to the rest of the district.

In Methuen, Superintendent Judith Scannell said the system heightened its alert for several weeks after the December Newtown shooting, which happened just days after a high school student in Methuen was arrested for allegedly making Columbine-like threats to another student.

“We heightened police awareness for a week to two weeks following the incident, and cruisers were doing constant patrols through school properties,” Scannell said. “We had a second officer on duty in each building.”

That move was part of the district’s existing protocol, and worked as it was intended. She said she is “comfortable” with Methuen’s security, but keeps in contact with police Chief Joseph Solomon about cooperation and improvement to protocol. Methuen also adopted the ALICE security protocol in the spring.

“The chief and I have talked many times over the summer,” she said.

“Because of Connecticut, thinking is changing about the process for lock downs. So he and I are going to pursue this more. We’re both educating ourselves more about what is going on through the country as far as changing it up to work better through school systems.”

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