North Adams Schools Plan Emergency Lockdown Drill

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The public school district will be holding emergency drills on Tuesday, April 29, at Sullivan Elementary and Drury High schools.

The schools will put in "lockdown," a security procedure used when there is an imminent danger inside or in close proximity to the school, such as an intruder.

The North Adams Public School District is partnering with local and regional law enforcement to implement the whole-school lockdown drills.  

Parents will be receiving phone calls on Monday through the School Messenger automatic call system to inform them that a practice lockdown drill will occur at their child's school.  

Participating officers will be from units that would respond to an actual emergency event and include representatives from the North Adams Police Department, the Berkshire County Special Response Team and canine handlers from the Massachusetts Police Working Dog Association.  

A lockdown is designed to remove students from harm's way in anticipation of police response. All classrooms in the North Adams Public Schools practice lockdown procedures on a regular basis. Regional law enforcement officers have been conducting training sessions in unoccupied schools to respond to potential threats such as a violent intruder or an active shooter.

The law enforcement training includes the use of canines who have been trained to assist police by searching for missing persons, identified suspects, weapons and drugs. North Adams Police Officer Albert Zoito, a canine handler, has been visiting schools to familiarize the force's new K-9, Chuck, and the children with each other.

The schools and law enforcement will be combining their efforts to enact larger scale and coordinated drills. The goals of the coordinated drills are multifold: to prepare students and staff to effectively implement standardized safety procedures; to increase the capacity of police to effectively respond to a safety threat by familiarizing them with school buildings and school procedures; for school administrators and local law enforcement to practice together the use of the Incident Command System of the federal government's National Incident Management System; and to observe and evaluate the drills for continuous improvement.

Parent support of school safety procedures is critical to the well-being of children and parents are urged to talk to their children about the purpose and seriousness of school safety drills. Parents are encouraged to visit and to read the NAPS School Safety Brochure that describes emergency management and communication procedures.

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