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Lockdown Reinforces Need For Westport School Security Study

A woman leaves Greens Farms Academy in Westport with two students last Friday after the school was placed on lockdown.
A woman leaves Greens Farms Academy in Westport with two students last Friday after the school was placed on lockdown. Photo Credit: File: Jeff Craig

WESTPORT, Conn. —  Westport Superintendent Elliott Landon is confident the town’s legislative body will back the Board of Education’s $100,000 request for a school security study following last Friday’s l ockdown at Greens Farms Academy , a private K-12 school in town.

The education board announced its desire to hire a firm to analyze security at each of the district’s schools shortly after the December mass shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary . Although Greens Farms Academy is a private school, Landon said the fact that an emergency situation occurred in town further emphasizes the need for the study.

“I think this sends an urgent message to the (Representative Town Meeting) to approve the Board of Education’s request,” Landon said. “People say the Newtown incident was a rarity and that it can’t happen here, but the reality is, no one knows where or when these things will happen.”

The academy, located on Beachside Avenue, was placed on a precautionary lockdown Friday afternoon when a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee police were tracking that morning was found abandoned at the school.

A police manhunt for the suspect ensued but it was later determined the suspect fled the area in a car stolen from the school’s parking lot.

Although lockdown drills are already practiced at each of the district's eight schools, Landon said the security study will highlight ways to make improve them.

"The question becomes how do you make a lockdown procedure truly effective, and that's one of the things I think will come out of this assessment," Landon said.

Originally, the school board requested $50,000 to hire a firm. It doubled its request after receiving a proposal from Kroll Advisory Solutions , a Manhattan-based risk consulting firm.

The finance board approved the additional $50,000 request two weeks ago. The Representative Town Meeting will vote on it next Tuesday night.

“I’m hopeful the cost of the assessment will not interfere with RTM’s ability to do the right thing,” Landon said. “What’s more important than protecting the safety of all our children, as well as the adults? I’d hate to have to come back a year or six months from now and say ‘if only we had done the assessment.’”

The RTM meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.

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