School Disaster Response Plans Go Digital Aiding Law Enforcement Response in Three Maine Counties
It's been a work in progress for three years now. A collaboration of effort between education officials and law enforcement agencies in three Maine counties in an effort to improve law enforcements response in the event of a school emergency.
A two hundred and fifty thousand dollar federal grant supported the effort in Kennebec, Penobscot, and Oxford counties, to photograph and digitize school floor plans and emergency contact information for all school systems.
Penobscot County Sheriff Glen Ross says one hundred eighteen schools in Penobscot County have been entered into the program, and Sheriff Wayne Gallant says thirty-five of the public schools in Oxford county have been documented and they're currently working with the private schools too.
The information is now immediately available to emergency dispatchers and all law enforcement officers in these three counties, via their mobile data terminals in their cruisers.
Sheriff Ross says the grant also helped buy equipment and provide training for special response teams in Penobscot and Kennebec Counties for active shooter scenarios. He says that since the Columbine school massacre, police have changed their response tactics to an active shooter response meaning the first law enforcement officer to respond on scene will be immediately entering the school to stop the shooter to reduce fatalities.
School and law enforcement officials involved in today's news conference hope other communities and schools will also be proactive and duplicate the project.
Congressman Mike Michaud says he hopes to take the story of success of this project to his colleagues to encourage additional funding so the concept can be expanded throughout the state and country.
"This should be part of the solution to deal with keeping our kids safe in school at a low cost...everyone on both sides of the house should agree on this one," stated Michaud