WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Stemming from discussions dating back to before the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, Westborough Police is planning to begin ALICE training, a new method for school safety. ALICE stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate.
"It's basically a different way of handling emergencies," Police Chief Alan Gordon said, noting that the current protocol of how police would handle a lock down situation is to be evaluated.
"It certainly looks like something appropriate that we can use."
Gordon noted one change is that in the case of an emergency, Westborough police would not wait for SWAT personnel. They would instead go in with whatever forces were available to begin handling the situation.
"We've looked at whether its appropriate for kids to just lock down, or if we're able to move kids out in a safe fashion [in an emergency]," he said.
ALICE training was suggested by Westborough High School Police Liaison Officer Chip Dapolite. According to the program's website, training will include a security assessment, school safety and emergency/crisis training and crisis training/planning evaluations.
In response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, a Westborough officer was stationed at all schools during the day Monday. Gordon said an expanded police presence at Westborough schools would be ideal, but that initiative is limited by the budget.
"People are very cognizant of what there taxes are here," he said. "If you tell them we need another $800,000 to put police officers in the school full time — that's a lot of money"
"What happened [Monday] was very expensive, but when it comes to a situation like this, money doesn't matter," he said.
Schools Superintendent Marianne O'Connor said the town is always looking for ways to improve security, and recently put in a work order to upgrade the school public address systems to allow any classroom to put out a schoolwide message from a wall phone.
The school already keeps doors locked at all times throughout the school day, requires buzzers and Officer Dapolite is frequently at the high school.
"You try every safeguard you can," O'Connor said. "A risk is always going to be there."