Chief Weck: 300 Unannounced Visitors Enter Summit Schools Daily
Summit Police Chief Robert Weck discussed school safety and security at the March 14 Board of Education meeting.
Summit Police Chief Robert Weck said the police department has been working closely with the Board of Education over the years to make sure students, staff and parents are prepared rather than scared when it comes to school security.
“I don’t know a lot of other police departments that are allowed to go in and have free range,” he said at the March 14 Board of Ed meeting.
Weck pointed out that before he was chief he put together a team of officers designated to school safety, who often train inside the school buildings to understand the layout of the school in case something were to ever happen.
“We hope we never have to use it,” Weck stated. “But we are prepared.”
In terms of building safety, Summit spent money on doors that lock from the inside, Weck said. Adding that having a door that locks from the inside could limit the number of victims.
Many of the district’s construction plans over the next five years include creating safety vestibules when entering the school buildings. This is something the state is beginning to tell schools districts to start looking into and Summit is already ahead of the game, Edgar Mokuvos of the Board of Ed Operations Committee said.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is unannounced visitors. Weck pointed out that 300 unannounced visitors enter the school per day. This opens the vulnerability for anyone to walk in, he said.
Communication is something that the Chief said the department is also working on.
Currently, each school has a radio that goes right to the police, but it is not necessarily go straight to Summit so he urges staff to put the 10-digit Summit Police Department number in their cellphones.
According to Weck, he would like officers to build relationships with the students, staff and teachers at each school so that when they see an officer enter the building they don’t automatically assume something bad has happened.
He said he hopes to get away from the idea of an officer as scary so that officers can get eye to eye with students and talk about what they should do in case of an emergency.
“Our main goal is to be prepared,” Weck stated. “Not to scare you.”
The “See Something, Say Something,” policy that is often related to terrorism, is something Weck wants to see parents, students and staff implementing.
For example, he mentioned two children in the back seat of a parent’s car talking about a student getting bullied on the playground. He said that parents should call the school and report anything they hear, if they do it anonymously.
Parents choosing not to bring in an item a student forget and teachers adapting to opening the door for each student that returns from the hall and running drills accurately are all about changes in behavior, Weck stated.
“I can do everything and the school can do everything, but if we don’t change the behavior it doesn’t matter,” he said.
Weck ended his presentation by thanking all of those who send him emails with suggestions, because that’s what the Police Department and Board of Education wants to hear from parents, students, staff and teachers.