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Schools implementing new safety measures

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published: December 26, 2012 12:00 AM

Hudson -- Providing a direct video feed from schools to the police department is one of several stricter security measures the district is implementing to keep students safe in the wake of recent shootings.

"We've been fortunate here in Hudson and believe that our community and our schools are very safe," Superintendent Steve Farnsworth said at the Dec. 17 Board of Education meeting. "However those living in Newtown, [Conn.]; Aurora, Colo.; and Chardon, Ohio, believed the same."

Shootings in those three cities in 2012 killed 41 people. Two of them happened at schools.

"While no precautions can be considered 100 percent effective, there are things schools can do to try and deter the types of assaults which have occurred in other schools and other communities," Farnsworth said.

One of the most important safety measures is having a good working relationship between the schools and city safety forces, according to Farnsworth.

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Hudson Police will now have a direct video security feed from Hudson schools security cameras to the police department, he said.

"Because if there is an intruder or uninvited guest and they send their officers to investigate, the dispatcher will know exactly where that person is by virtue of the cameras," Farnsworth said. "[Hudson Police] have asked for this and it will be done."

Windows of district buildings will soon be labeled so that in the event that there is a problem in a certain class or area, safety forces on the outside of the buildings will know the immediate location, Farnsworth added.

"Those are the immediate things we are going to be doing," he said.

Plans also call for teachers to be equipped with bags containing items to assist them in the event of a lockdown. Farnsworth said the contents of the bags will not be publicly disclosed.

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"Because if the bad guy hears it, he will know exactly what is going on," he said.

The district also increased the police presence around the schools prior to the winter break and have implemented a stricter policy on "buzz-in" procedures and locking of exterior doors.

Measures currently in place include staff members wearing identification badges, according to Farnsworth.

"And our students are directed that if they see someone walking around the hallways without a badge, they should tell someone," he said.

The district also has regular safety committee meetings with a board that includes safety officials, parents and staff members. The district has also invited experts to talk to staff members on safety and bullying.

Other safety measures include regular lockdown and safety drills, security cameras in all buildings, an inter-school alert system, teaching the "see something, say something" method, and a school safety officer, Farnsworth said.

"We continue to define and modify our plans as we learn more," he said.

The district plans to install more secure lock systems and make disaster training available for parents and staff members.

"In the long term we will be changing the entrances to Evamere and East Woods," Farnsworth said. "Those entrances do not provide a clear view of visitors as they come to the door. It's a clumsy system and we think that we can make improvements to those entrances that will improve safety and security of the staff and students there."

The permanent improvement fund levy renewed in November will help purchase additional security cameras, Farnsworth said.

The most effective deterrent is creating an atmosphere where students feel comfortable approaching teachers and staff members to report a problem, Farnsworth said.

"While much has been done, the events of last Friday [Dec. 14] confirmed the fact that no community is exempt from such a horrific thing, so we must be better prepared for such an attack in order to protect this community's most precious possessions: our children," he said.

A variety of resources on school safety and helping children cope with the recent school shooting are available on the district's website at www.hudson.edu.

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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