Maine Schools Double Down on Security and Safety

Maine Schools Double Down on Security and Safety

Many Maine campuses are adding school resource officers in addition to their other security measures. According to data collected by University of Southern Maine research analyst Danielle Layton, Maine had at least 82 school resource officers as of this fall.

School districts throughout Maine have been focusing on school security and safety in light of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting earlier this year and other on-campus incidents of violence. Districts are taking steps toward increased security that include changing staff training, investing in physical security and hiring more school resource officers.

Maine law dictates that school districts must hold lockdown drills regularly and review their emergency plans annually, but some districts are changing up the training teachers are given.

For example, according to Augusta School Department superintendent James Anastasio, Augusta schools are shifting away from lockdown-focused training. Staff members are working with law enforcement and state officials to learn how to flee or fight back against armed intruders as well.

Schools are also changing their physical security measures, like adding video surveillance or changing landscaping to give security a clear view of the campus grounds. Many are controlling access to the campuses by creating a single entry point, allowing officials to more closely monitor who enters the school.

Many Maine campuses are adding school resource officers in addition to their other security measures. According to data collected by University of Southern Maine research analyst Danielle Layton, Maine had at least 82 school resource officers as of this fall. Many campuses have had SROs for a while, but at least two districts have newly added the position.

In Regional School Unit 4, school resource officer John Dalbec began his work on campus after spending 30 years as a Cumberland County police officer, with five years of work on patrol and the rest spent on campuses. Dalbec is based at Oak Hill High School in Wales, from which he travels to middle and elementary schools across the district.

“You go where the need is,” Dalbec said. “Every day is different, because you don’t want to have patterns. It’s like being on patrol.”

Hall-Dale High School does not have a resource officer, but students say the sense of community and small enrollment – about 300 students, according to Principal Mark Tinkham – help them feel safe on campus. According to Tinkham, school officials evaluate their safety and security anytime a school-related incident occurs throughout the country.

“With any incident in schools, we always reflect upon our practices, our evacuation routes and sites, sheltering in place versus self-defense, and how we communicate on those situations,” he said. “Every incident is a learning opportunity. I kind of wish we’d have an opportunity to stop learning.”

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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    October 2018

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