HOLDEN, Mass. — After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Chief George Sherrill is reassuring the community that the Holden Police Department has kept school safety close in mind over the years and continues to take proactive steps to protect Holden's children.
Even before the horrific events, the department has conducted two major training sessions on school shootings at the Public Safety Building.
"We've taken a very proactive approach," said Sherrill.
In the past, the department brought in officers from Connecticut to speak on the 2010 shooting at a beer distribution plant near Hartford. In the coming weeks, he plans to meet with police in Connecticut to learn what went right and what went wrong during last week's shooting to bring back lessons for the Wachusett School District.
Additionally, the department has had a school resource officer in place for the past 20 years, which Sherrill said is based upon a partnership with the school district, trust with teachers and students, and communication.
Sherrill has written in-depth about the issue of school safety for the New England Police Information Network, offering suggestions on how to implement further protections for communities.
In his article, he said, "Communication between two entities is key and training together is paramount. It is far better to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve in this important area of school safety."
In October the Holden Police Department worked with the Holden Fire Department and other agencies to hold a lockdown drill at Wachusett Regional High School to practice their tactical response to a situation such as an active shooter.
"It's a top priority to us," said Sherrill. "We conduct drills yearly and are always looking for ways to improve safety in our schools and for our students and teachers."