BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts school and police officials alike are searching for ways to prevent a tragedy, like the school shooting in Florida, from hitting their own communities.
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang wants parents to know they are taking steps to prevent school violence and prepare for an active shooter.
“We are training our staff to look for signs of depression, disconnectiveness. We want our young people to feel they are part of a community,” Chang told WBZ-TV.
He said active shooter training occurs within the district, which works “very close” with the Boston Police Department.
“We’ve been in contact with them over the last 24 hours, but this is something that’s ongoing,” Chang said. “It happens all the time. We don’t do it just because of incidents like (the Florida school shooting). We do it constantly.”
Chang said he has contacted Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie in Florida to send his support to a district now in mourning.
“Our thoughts and prayers (go out) to students and families and the county of Broward. This should never have happened,” Chang said. “He’s staying strong, he has to be strong. Our job as leaders are making sure families feel affirmed and are being supported.”
His message for Boston families is “Boston public schools are safe welcoming environments for our students.”
Boston’s school district has partnered with Sandy Hook Promise, which trains students and adults to know the signs of gun violence to prevent school shootings.
“We’re training our teachers on how to look for (signs), how to keep school buildings safe and to make sure they understand what to do if there was ever an active shooter, so active shooter training happens in our schools,” he said.
All Boston schools have safe mode drills twice a year, he said.
He encouraged educators and parents with listening to youth, so they can share their thoughts.
And, he said children and young people “need to know they’re safe, whether its home, classroom, the YMCA.”
“Our job as an entire community is to make sure that we’re creating those safe and welcoming environments,” Chang said. “Our job as educators is to prevent, make sure we create safe and welcoming environments.”
A school in Methuen is also putting safety measures in place that could help police respond to a shooting there.
It is Active Shooter Detection technology.
The system is triggered by the loud sound of a gunshot and a simultaneous visual flash, and it sends signals to police dispatchers and to officers in the field.
“The faster the police get there, the safer everybody is,” said Methuen Police Chief Joesph Solomon.
If it were up to Solomon, he said he would put the system in every school in the district. Funding for the technology is often where he receives pushback.
“I want this in the whole Merrimac Valley, and I want all the legislators to appropriate funds to save lives,” he said.
Methuen’s system is free because it is part of a pilot program, but the system can cost as much as $100,000.
Until recently, Methuen was the only school in the state to have the technology. Haverhill recently installed the system to a school as well.
“Look how close we are to Newtown, Connecticut, if that wasn’t a call to action for people in Massachusetts and New England to stand up and do something, then what’s another call? Do we need a shooting a local community closer to us?” Solomon asked.
Legislation has been introduced to require all new Massachusetts schools to be built with Shooter Detections Systems.
Chief Solomon and other supporters of the system hope the latest tragedy puts it back into the forefront of the discussion.