GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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February 15, 2013

ME school officials talk resource officer

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Essex Regional School Committee is considering options on how best to make the district’s schools more secure, and officials are “investigating the concept” of a school resource officer.

Superintendent Pamela Beaudoin said Thursday the talks are merely preliminary, but school officials are looking at ways to improve school security while also making sure practices and policies are up to date.

”The aim is to build a collaborative, proactive approach around safety,” she said.

Although officials are just beginning to look at options and resources, Beaudoin said officials are examining the idea of an academic support officer, not an armed security guard. She added that school officials and police officers have always had open lines of communication and have been meeting regularly to discuss

Additionally, school officials are making sure emergency procedures are up to date and students know what to do, should anything like a school shooting happen.

Beaudoin said another important aspect is cross-training police officers and emergency officials, making sure that Essex police officers and firefighters are familiar with schools in Manchester and vice-versa regarding Essex Elementary.

Manchester’s police Chief Glenn McKiel could not be reached for comment, but the idea is getting support from Essex police.

”My sentiment is there should be some police presence in the schools,” said Essex police Chief Peter Silva.

Silva said this would not mean having an officer frisk everyone that walks into the school, or example, but establishing a police presence whereby officers would regularly interact with students. In that sense, school resource officers could provide a level of safety in schools, while also giving students someone to talk to, he said.

He compared a potential a school resource officer to the national Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, in which Essex’s Sgt. Paul Francis would educate students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

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