HANCOCK — With gun control and citizen safety being a current topic consuming the headlines after recent shootings in Florida and Maryland, many parents across the country are asking themselves “where is a safe place for my children to learn?” Hancock Public Schools, like many others, are wasting no time enhancing its security system. The district will also be making some policy changes before the end of the school year.
“We’re all hopeful that something like that wouldn’t happen around here, but we have to be realistic, too, and do the best we can to keep everybody safe. Part of that is preparation. Not paranoia, preparation,” said Matt Djerf, Community Service Trooper with Michigan State Police Calumet Post.
Djerf who oversees 13 schools in the Copper Country. Hancock’s preparations have included Trooper Djerf’s involvement for quite a while, as he works closely with educators through a series of drills, training exercises, and discussions, teaching crisis management techniques to faculty and parents.
Earlier this week, it was unanimously decided by the board of education that the district will be making some additional adjustments.
“Our district through the board of education authorized expenditures to enhance our security system for the buildings our elementary building, our high school and middle school. And the goal of that is, again in a changing world to make sure that our students are safe and that we have the resources in order to do that,” said Kipp Beaudoin, superintendent for Hancock Public Schools.
Beaudoin says that most school buildings were designed for community access and retrofitting them to meet today’s safety standards is a must. The first step of Hancock’s safety plan is to control and monitor traffic into the buildings and allocate one doorway to serve as a building entrance for all incoming foot traffic. During school hours, all other doors would be locked from the inside and used as an exit only as required by fire and safety codes.
“The goal here is, again, to make sure that we have good eyes on the field. Who’s coming into the building and where are they coming into the building through. If they’re a guest, they’re a guest and if there’s an issue then we’re able to identify that as quickly as humanly possible and then address it appropriately,” added Beaudoin.
The budget for the upgrades is $18,000 and may include the implementation of live feed cameras, providing real time accurate information to law enforcement and school officials. In addition to providing a feeling of safety, Djerf says that increased police presence on school campuses has helped to bridge the gap between law enforcement and civilians, and helps students to overcome the stigma associated with police.
“In past times, when somebody saw a police officer in the building they would automatically assume something bad was happening. That’s changing now its kind of normalizing where we can have some interaction with the kids, the school staff and parents. Its good all the way around for everybody,” said Djerf.
Beaudoin says that the district will begin updated its infrastructure over spring break and the building entryway changes will take place before the end of the school year.