Bethel officials say security plans are strong at schools, but they're looking at new ways to improve protocols nonetheless.
In a letter addressed to the community and dated January 2, Superintendent Kevin Smith and First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker said they couldn't go into detail about some school security information, "as part of our effort to preserve the integrity of our safety and security procedures," but assured the public protocols were strong.
"Please be advised that our schools have had crisis plans in place for many years," said the letter, including evacuation and lockdown drills.
According to the letter, other security protocols already in place at Bethel Public Schools include:
- Security systems at the main entries of all five schools, with buzzer-controlled, locked doors and camera and intercom systems;
- Visitors required to show ID, sign in at the front desk and wear a badge;
- Locked exterior doors during the school day (and limited access to the main door);
- One full-time Bethel police officer at Bethel High School;
- Patrol officers at each other school at present, plus another full-time patrol officer and a Youth Officer.
Still, a security firm who conducted an audit following the Newtown shooting indicated some potential new improvements, according to the letter. These include alarms on exterior doors, more cameras and emergency alert buttons.
"It goes without saying all of our folks have been on high alert and looking not only outside the building but inside," Smith told Patch the week after the shootings in Newtown. "They're making sure our procedures are tight. We've been working closely with the police department and they've provided police presence at each of our schools and added additional patrols. That's been comforting and reassuring."
On Monday, Superintendent Smith was attending an all-day school security symposium organized by the State Department of Education. He was not available for comment, but according to the letter, he hopes to "come home with updated information to include in our security plans and protocols."