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Free Safety Audits Offered To Help Bergen County Public Schools ‘Plan For The Worst’

Aim Is To Prevent Access To School; Could Have 'Enormous Impact'
State police personnel led children from the school, following the shooting. (credit: Newtown Bee Photo, Shannon Hicks)

State police personnel led children from the school, following the shooting. (credit: Newtown Bee Photo, Shannon Hicks)

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HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Bergen County officials have decided to be proactive about school security.

“We will provide a free security assessment to every school building in Bergen County,” said Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.

Molinelli said the free safety audits will be conducted by an expert with experience in assessing risk in public places. The review will look into each school’s facilities and policies.

“Are the rear doors properly secured? Is there a policy that allows kids during the day to leave a rear door, which is a security risk,” Molinelli told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “If you have cameras, are they adequately placed? [Are] there appropriate items in place to prevent entry?”

There are 318 public school buildings in Bergen County.

“This assessment is primarily helping to prevent someone getting access into the building,” added Molinelli.

Sandy Hook Elementary had recently implemented new security measures. There was a video intercom system to prevent unidentified people from entering the school.

Authorities said gunman Adam Lanza shot his way into the school before killing 20 first graders and six educators, including the school principal.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s office is also preparing a training video for school officials on how to handle an active shooter situation. Molinelli said any changes to school security should be done thoughtfully.

“I don’t want to see anyone go about and do more of a knee-jerk reaction,” he told Haskell.

The video is expected to be made available to schools by the end of February, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“You always have to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Molinelli said. “So far, we’re getting a lot of requests coming in – emails, letters.”

Since the Newtown massacre, schools nationwide have conducted lockdown drills.

Molinelli said schools interested in the free audit should contact his office by Feb. 15.

“I think it can make an enormous difference,” he added.

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