Farmington Public Schools Install Emergency Notification System, Cameras

FARMINGTON, Conn. – To increase its level of emergency preparedness, Farmington Public Schools have installed a crisis notification system to inform parents of an emergency. The district will also be adding more security cameras to its schools’ main entryways.

The new emergency notification system, called ParentLink, gives parents access to important information via telephone and E-mail.

Superintendent Robert M. Villanueva said the school district partnered with local police and security experts to update and rewrite its crisis incident procedures manual. District schools have all run “secure building” drills to ingrain the procedures in students’ and faculties’ minds.

Villanueva cited recent events in which school violence terrorized students and faculty, such as the killing of five Amish schoolchildren and the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, as the collective impetus for updating the security plans and procedures.

The district’s upgrades are a novel approach to school safety and security, said Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a consulting firm located in Cleveland. According to Trump, other schools rarely test their emergency-response plans with intensive drills, instead relying on the hope that crises will not occur on their campuses.

After a Nov. 13 panel discussion about school safety at Farmington, a security services firm recommended adding dome-type security cameras to school entryways. Villanueva said the cameras will be installed in every school by December. The majority of the district’s schools already have cameras, with only East Farms School and Irving A. Robbins Middle School lacking them. Farmington High School has the most cameras with 14.

The police department will also be able to view camera feeds at its dispatch center.

In addition to the new procedures and cameras, during school hours, every elementary and middle school locks everything except its front door. And though many schools have intercom systems installed to monitor who enters, school officials are looking for new ways to improve their access control.

Funds for the new cameras will come from whatever is left over from their maintenance budget, officials said.

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