Monday, February 27, 2017

Boston school police not allowed to be armed inside schools

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Boston MA Feb 27 2017 Something set off a 15-year-old before Boston Police say the teen fired at least one shot inside the lobby of Boston Public School's main offices in late January.
Good Samaritans are credited with tackling the shooter and kicking away the gun. There were Boston School Police officers stationed inside, but they were not able to draw their weapons because they are not armed.
“We’re in a position where we have a duty to act and safeguard everyone and somehow we are not given the tools to do that,” said former Boston School Police Officer Manny Perez.
The state's largest school district has a policy that prohibits the academy trained police officers to be armed while on patrol inside school buildings. Perez dealt with all sorts of threats but never had a weapon to protect others or himself.
"In a limited sense I felt like I was a deterrent but I wasn't anything that could mitigate an armed individual,” said Perez.
Many cities and towns outside of Boston use school resource officers, which are basically police officers assigned to work inside schools. They are fully uniformed and armed.
“When they see a police officer they expect them to be armed. So I don't think it's a surprise to them that the police officer has a gun,” said Chief James DiGanvittorio, president of the Massachusetts Chiefs Association.
DiGanvittorio said the first few minutes of an active shooter incident is crucial because it's the time when people are most likely to be hurt. He runs drills in his town every couple of months where everyone runs through what to do if someone with a gun enters a school, from the lock downs to the police response.
“You need to get in there as quick as possible to attack the threat,” he said.
Some school districts in the state like Braintree are using technology to better connect school officials inside the building directly with police.
Nearly 50 school districts in Massachusetts use COPsync911. It's a program on a teacher's phone or computer that alerts police and opens a two way chat portal, so the school official can tell responding officers what's going on.
“We are able to cut out the middle man so to speak and go right to the source," said COPsync 911’s Brandon Flanagan.
But even with the latest technology or armed officers, some police officers say the best safety plan needs to change as the threats do.
“That is how we learn, we learn from what they did and what worked and what didn't work,” said DiGanvittorio.
Boston school police and school staff regularly train with Boston Police on active shooter training.

BPS gave FOX25 a statement saying, in part, that school police are "invaluable resources who build relationships with students and staff...and Boston Police Department to promote a safe school climate as well as prevent and respond to emergencies.”

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