Worcester Co. District Amps Up Security For New School Year - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Worcester Co. District Amps Up Security For New School Year

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WORCESTER CO., Md. - It's been more than eight months since the tragic elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that took the lives of twenty-six students and six adult staff members. Now, school districts like Worcester County, are not taking any chances.

"It's an immediate response following the unfortunate incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School," says Steve Price, safety coordinator for the Worcester public schools. "We re-examined all of our safety and security policies."

The Worcester County Superintendent had a safety committee make recommendations, and then the schools worked with county commissioners and the Worcester County Sheriff's office to come up with a new safety plan to implement this school year. The new plan features limited access to the buildings. This includes controls on the front doors with cameras, a "buzz-in" system in order to enter the building, and a requirement for all visitors to report to the main office for a visitor identification system. However, Price says their addition of school security deputy's form the Worcester County Sheriff's office is the biggest change that he is most proud of.

"It lends a real sense of security to our staff, to our visitors, and our students, and we're excited about having them in our building." 

Each school will have at least one deputy on duty during school hours, and Lieutenant Ed Schreier, with the Worcester County Sheriff's Office, says many of them have years of experience. For instance, at Showell Elementary School, Deputy Vicki Martin retired from the Ocean City Police Department after 27 years to take the job.

"I think it's an awesome opportunity," says Deputy Martin.

"All of their experience is going to be transferred to this program and then they can innovate and make this thing grow," says Lieutenant Schreier. "They're well versed in the work they're doing and they're ready to take off with this."

Lieutenant Schreier says that he hopes this new program will build a sense of community, and help students view law enforcement in a positive way.

"Starting in kindergarten, they're going to see these deputies all through their educational career. They'll realize not only do they arrest the bad guys, but they can help them with all sorts of things, whether it's school, sports, or academics."

Price says that they have tried very intently to get the word out to parents and visitors on what to expect, and they understand it's a major culture change for everyone. However, he says that so far he has received very positive feedback.

"They feel that we have done the right thing to protect our students and staff."

Officials say they are there for any situation that may arise, not just for an active shooter. This includes everything from bomb threats and severe weather, to fires.

"You never know when something may happen, so it's better to be proactive and be prepared as much as you can, then constantly having to react to something," says Lieutenant Schreier. "Reaction never fixes a problem it always just responds to the problem."

Right now the program is currently just in its ground phrase, but the Worcester County Sheriff's Office says they are hoping to add more each year, including more classroom interaction with law enforcement.

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