BOSTON (CBS) – We’ve all cringed when we’ve seen those pictures of children running from their school in fear. They are troubling images that haunt educators and parents alike.
“I speak for a lot of superintendents and principals when I say this is something that keeps us up at night,” said Saugus school superintendent Michael Tempesta.
“People always say we never thought it was going to happen here. Well it does, so you need to be prepared,” said Saugus police chief Dominic DeMilla.
Saugus is the first Massachusetts district to go on line with “CopSync”, a new communications tool designed by a North Shore company.
“It alerts the five closet cruisers in the area, which by studies, takes about five minutes off the response time,” explained DeMilla. He added that every second counts in these volatile situations. “If you have an active shooter in the school, he is basically hunting targets. Any time you can stop that threat to our children is important. Seconds are huge.”
When CopSync is initiated, an officer gets a message in his cruiser identifying the specifics of the incident.
Company Vice President Brandon Flanagan said this is just the start of real time information the officer would otherwise not have access to. The officer can call up the floor plan of the school immediately and “see exactly the schematics, the blueprints of the school, as well as the entrances, and exits.”
Most importantly, the program identifies exactly where in the school the threat has been initiated. “In that instant, the officer would know that class 303 has just sent and initiated an alert,” explained Flanagan.
Teachers or other school personnel could initiate an alert on the computer located in their classroom or office.
Tempesta said it was helpful that this product works off their existing infrastructure and computer equipment.
In January, Governor Patrick established a task force for school security, pulling in experts from law enforcement, human services, and education.
Education Secretary Matthew Malone would like to see more uniformity in how Massachusetts schools are made safer.
“Large systems have been able to do a lot because the economies of scale are different, and the small systems haven’t. We want to create a greater sense of equity across the Commonwealth,” said Malone.
The Governor’s committee is expected to have formal recommendations out before the start of school in the fall.
CopSync is expected to go on line next in Massachusetts in North Reading. It is in several hundred districts around the country.
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