Amid local school threats, districts say safety is top priority

Hampden County

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (WWLP) – What are our schools doing to protect your kids? 22News looked into the safety measures already in place at some districts.

In the wake of the Florida school massacre a series of alleged threats and investigations has rocked our local schools.

Springfield, Granby, Wilbraham, and on Monday, Palmer. Those are the districts that dealt with recent actual or perceived threats. The Southwick / Tolland / Granville Schools says safety is their top priority.

One of the safety measures in place at the school is a vestibule. They buzz you in, and you can’t go anywhere. Another set of doors is locked. You have to let the school office know what your business is.

“We also make sure that our classroom doors are locked so in the event of an emergency, we don’t have to worry about locking our doors, they are just locked and all we have to do is shut them. We know that seconds matter,” explained Southwick / Tolland / Granville Schools Superintendent Jennifer Willard.

They drill for lockdowns every two months. Numbers on the outside of the building are for better communication in an emergency. They are getting new cameras and an alert system to warn visitors who may have a key not to enter the school building during a lockdown.

District Resource Officer Michael Taggert told 22News it would be his job to engage a shooter.

“Pre-Columbine it was a surround and drown technique where police would show up, surround the building and wait for the SWAT teams to show up. Now we train through state police stop team for individual officer response so whoever is there first goes in to address the threat,” explained Officer Taggert.

Tuesday on 22News, we’ll be taking a closer look at the way new schools are being built with safety a priority in their design.

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