Published in the October 18, 2017 edition


LYNNFIELD — A new school security program will be formally introduced to students later this year, the School Security Task Force told 40 parents during a presentation on Oct. 11.

The School and Police departments held the presentation in order to inform parents about security updates that have taken place the past few years.

“This is an incredibly important topic for Lynnfield Public Schools and the Lynnfield Police Department,” said Superintendent Jane Tremblay. “My number priority every single day is trying to keep our students and our faculty as safe as possible.”

Police Chief David Breen agreed.

“I can assure you that no town around us has done more to protect the children and the staff,” said Breen. “What we are doing is very dynamic. When we finish a current project that we are working on, we are not done. Every year, we sit down and look at new technology, new policies, new procedures and new methods of operation in order to make it better. We just can’t stick our heads in the sand.”

Tremblay noted the Security Task Force consists of Sergeant Al Scotina, School Resource Officer Patrick Curran and Middle School Principal Stephen Ralston. She said Ralston is a member of STARS (School Threat Assessment and Response System).

“It’s a regionalized group of people,” said Tremblay. “(Ralston) gets called if there is an emergency anywhere in the region.”

Breen said Scotina is a member of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC), which is a consortium of police departments in Essex and Middlesex counties. The council is affiliated with STARS.

“Whenever I have a question on tactics, I go to Sergeant Scotina,” said Breen. “His knowledge is unbelievable. He was in Watertown after the Boston Marathon bombing. He has done a number of high risk entries as a member of NEMLEC’s S.W.A.T. team.”

Security initiatives

Curran gave an overview of the different initiatives the Security Task Force has undertaken the past few years. He said surveillance cameras have been upgraded. He also said the town implemented the COPsync911 program in 2015. COPsync911 is a software-based alert notification system that is available on computers and mobile devices.

“It’s basically like a panic button,” said Curran. “It’s a rapid real-time notification system for Lynnfield Police and surrounding towns as well. Teachers and staff have been trained how to use it.”

Over the summer, Curran said the School Department upgraded each school in order to make the buildings safer. He said the security upgrades are ongoing.

“There has been a lot of work done on physical security of the buildings,” said Curran.

Curran said the School Department began implementing the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) program last year. He said teachers and staff have been trained using ALICE both last year and this year, which included “building-specific drills.”

“The next step is to roll it out for our kids,” said Curran. “We are going to do a combined drill with staff and students after students are trained.”

Curran said former Governor Deval Patrick created a task force in order to evaluate school safety procedures. He said the state’s task force recommended implementing ALICE in schools across the commonwealth.

“What we teach in ALICE can be used throughout the community,” said Curran. “These skills can be used at a movie theater, county fair or a concert. We are providing tools for their tool bag in case a dangerous situation or crisis comes up. We are empowering individuals to save lives, including their own.”

Curran said ALICE’s different components do not necessarily have to go in order. He said ALICE’s “alert” component entails having accurate information before implementing the program’s other protocols.

“You have to determine there is a threatening situation or a dangerous person,” said Curran.

If a school goes into lockdown, Curran said each school’s room will need to be locked, fortified and barricaded in order to defer intruders from entering. He said no one is allowed to enter a room once it gets barricaded.

Curran said ALICE’s “inform” component entails having people share accurate information in real time.

“It allows for good decision making,” said Curran. “It also confuses and disrupts the attacker if they know they are being watched.”

Curran said ALICE’s “counter” component is “the most controversial topic” of the safety program. He said the counter component of ALICE can involve a variety of different things such as throwing objects, swarming and distracting an intruder.

“The goal is to enhance survivability,” said Curran. “We empower people to help themselves.”

Curran said ALICE’s “evacuate” component is a “great option.” He said evacuating “reduces the number of victims in a crisis zone.”

If students and staff are evacuated from a school, Curran said there will be a “predetermined community rally point” that will take place away from the school. He said Lynnfield High School students and staff will be prevented from leaving the high school via their own cars.

According to Curran, ALICE has enabled 10 schools across the country stop a violent intruder.

“When we talk about these types of events, we are thinking of first responders such as police, fire and EMS,” said Curran. “But in these types of situations, the true first responders are people in the building. It’s the staff and the students.”

Student training

Ralston said the ALICE training program will be different for elementary, middle and high school students.

“We are trying to make it as simple as possible,” said Ralston. “We are trying to keep things as age appropriate as we can and our goal is not to scare any of our students.”

Ralston said elementary students will be co-taught by classroom teachers and an ALICE instructor. He said there will be grade level assemblies and the program will be geared to different levels. Additionally, he said there will be school-wide drills to familiarize students with ALICE. He said ALICE’s counter component “will not be taught to elementary students.”

At the middle and high schools, Ralston said students will be trained how to use each component provided by ALICE. Similar to the elementary schools, the secondary schools’ training sessions will be grade level specific and there will be assemblies for each grade level.

“We are going to be a little more frank with our middle and high school students,” said Ralston.


A mother thanked the Security Task Force for implementing the new security initiatives.

“I want to thank you for all of the hard work and effort that you have put into this,” said the mother. “I think it’s fantastic.”

Another mother in the audience inquired if teachers are allowed to bring weapons to school.

Tremblay said staff members are prohibited from bringing weapons to school. Curran noted state law only allows “on duty police officers” to bring guns into schools, including colleges and universities.

“Even off duty police officers from other communities are prevented from coming into the schools with a firearm,” said Curran. “Even if you are licensed to carry, you are not allowed to come into our school buildings carrying a firearm.”

A parent asked if all staff members have been trained with using ALICE. Tremblay said paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and custodians as well as teachers have been trained to use the program.

“In the event something happens, we need all hands on deck,” said Tremblay. “We need everyone knowing what they are supposed to be doing or knowing what tools they have available to help them not only to help themselves but help the children they are in charge of.”

In response to a question from a mother with children in elementary school, Tremblay said school officials will not be using “big scary words” during elementary school assemblies.

“Before we have those assemblies, we will be sitting down with principals, guidance counselors and psychologists and will be talking specifically about the words we are going to use,” said Tremblay. “But we are not going to turn it into a game because students have to know when a teacher says get down or shut the door, there is no conversation about it. It’s a very fine mix of being honest with them and not scaring them.”

Another parent asked if parents will be notified of meeting places ahead of time. She also asked if plans have been developed in case a student is outside of a classroom when an emergency occurs.

Breen said parents will be notified about an emergency via the Police Department’s Code Red service or the School Department’s Connect Ed service. He said parents can add their cell phone numbers to the Code Red service by visiting the town website.

“I can’t tell you where it’s going to be because it will depend on what is happening,” said Breen. “In the circumstance where there is a student outside of the classroom, we do have plans for what that student should do.”

If parents did not attend the presentation but would like to watch it, visit The presentation will also be shown on local cable access.