School Superintendent, Police Chief Working Closely Together To Ensure Safety, Security Of School Children

School Superintendent Thomas Scarice and Police Chief Jack Drumm meeting with Board of Finance Wednesday night to discuss measures needed and costs involved.


Madison Public School Superitendent Thomas Scarice and Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm plan to meeting with the Madison Board of Finance Wednesday at 7 p.m. at town hall to discuss short-term and long-term measures to ensure the safety and security of Madison school students.

Scarice said he has been working with Drumm since . On Wednesday afternoon, he had nothing but praise for the cooperation of the police department.

"I can't overemphasize my absolute satisfaction with the partnership of the chief of police. This is a man who is an absolute professional and dedicated to this town and his work," Scarice said. "He has brought in folks in his department with incredible experience. They have responded and, in fact, anticipated our requests before we even requested them. The partnership we have is as good as I have ever seen or ever could expect in my 20 years of experience in education."

Parent suggestions being taken into consideration

Scarice said people in town also made many good suggestions during two community meetings, one Monday night and another Tuesday night.

"I think that particularly [Tuesday] night was outstanding," Scarice said. "I received a ton of emails from parents, and we have taken some immediate actions to step up security in the buildings."

Scarice said the Madison Police Department has increased its presence in all public schools, throughout the outside of the campuses and near the entrances, although not inside the school classrooms.

Armed police officers including schools as part of regular patrols

As part of their patrols, police officers are now walking around the school campuses, Scarice said.

When asked how long those patrols on campus might last, Scarice said Board of Education officials, town officials, and the police department have discussed some short- and long-term strategies that will be presented to the Board of Finance tonight, along with potential costs involved.

In addition to patrols, a high priority will be fortifying front entrances and having some sort of permanent professional security presence in all public school buildings.

School buildings locked, people coming in checked

The front doors of the school buildings are currently locked and personnel are checking people coming in and directing them to the office, with instructions to report anything suspicious, he said.

When asked if buzzers are being contemplated, he said there is a general discussion about the fortification of the front doors. "There is technology and systems we can put in place," he said. "Jack has a creative idea about staffing and we'll be looking for a short-term fix until June, and a long-term fix after that."

Scarice said the district will be taking advantage of February vacation to work on some of the fortifications.

District provided resources to help parents talk with children, as appropriate

The district also has sent out a list of resources to parents to help them talk about the tragedy, in any way they felt was appropriate for their children, over the past few days.

"We really wanted to be mindful of the parents' right to communicate with their own children," Scarice said.

Scarice said the elementary schools did not publicly acknowledge the tragedy, but gave teachers direction on how to handle any spontaneous questions or conversations that came up by "redirecting and getting back on topic."

At Brown, Polson, Daniel Hand, a moment of silence

At Brown and Polson middle schools, there was a moment of silence in honor of the victims, Scarice said.

At Daniel Hand High School, there also was a moment of silence, and students who are working to respond in a "proactive, positive way," Scarice said.

He said students at the high school are putting together ideas for letter writing campaigns to improve the spirits of families, first responders, people at the schools and others involved.

Football team coming up with program to help; Two Madison school guidance counselors sent to help Newtown

The football team is also coming up with ways to help Newtown, perhaps by implementing a buddy reading program, a book donation program, in conjunction with the Newtown football team, Scarice said.

Madison Public Schools have also sent two of their counselors, Michelle Catucci from Brown Middle School, and Jean Baker from Daniel Hand High School, to Newtown to help with counseling efforts there.

Pem McNerney December 20, 2012 at 02:26 PM
In a world where this is possible: "The Sandy Hook system was easily penetrated by one angry, mentally disturbed 20-year-old man wielding a semiautomatic Bushmaster AR-15 assault-type rifle (which fires one bullet per squeeze of the trigger) with several 30-round magazines, a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9 mm, all legally purchased by the gunman's mother, who was killed by the gunman prior to the attack on the school." ... I can see why you would feel that way. I applaud the police chief and school superintendent and those who worked with them starting early Friday to begin improvements. But much, clearly, remains to be done. I know it's right before the holidays and we're all dealing with a lot, but it's imperative that the other town officials talk with both of them today, ask them what they need, when they need it, and make sure they get it. Now.
Daria Novak December 20, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I hope rational heads prevail in all discussions. While it is prudent to discuss what can be done, we also must recognize that unless we accept a full police state there will be some degree of insecurity inherent in any system. What is most important is that we calmly and rationally discuss these sensitive issues and find a good balance. We should protect our children well while retaining a free enough atmosphere for them to grow and learn without living in a permanent "lockdown" mentality. I also would like to thank the Madison Police, in particular those working at Daniel Hand this week. Knowing that copycat perpetrators do exist in the world, their presence is a welcome sight during this anxious period.
Pem McNerney December 20, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Daria, when you get a chance, read today's story. Drumm and Scarice have come up with some excellent suggestions for some short-term solutions, including an enhanced security system at all schools and contract community service officers (not armed guards) at all schools. All told, it will cost the town about $165,000 through June. Then we can talk about additional measures are part of next year's school budget, as needed. Drumm and Scarice got approval from one board last night for $45,000 of that expenditure. So what can town officials do to make sure they get the rest of the approvals in a timely manner so that the measures can be implemented according to the timetable recommended by Drumm and Scarice?
M. C. December 20, 2012 at 04:36 PM
"voting 5-0 for a special appropriation of $45,000 to install a buzzer, video camera, intercom, and improved lock systems for all of the towns schools," I believe Sandy Hook had this same or similiar system, and the killer just shot the glass out and stormed in....Sorry, but an armed officer at every single school along w/ these measures are really what's needed, and nothing less. (Just my opinion)
Pem McNerney December 20, 2012 at 05:34 PM
... and here's the answer ... Drumm and Scarice have requested special meetings of the Board of Education and Board of Selectmen Friday. Both have been scheduled: http://patch.com/A-03SL


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