East Haven

East Haven Police Bring Future Lockdown Model to Town Schools

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“The traditional lockdown method is just antiquated,” said East Haven Police Captain Joseph Murgo. “It’s just not the best practice anymore.”

He said the traditional lockdown method is huddling in a corner, drawing the blinds, locking the doors and turning the lights off. But he thinks that didn’t provide for much safety.

To change that, Murgo is bringing ALICE training to all East Haven Public Schools: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.

NBC Connecticut spoke to him Tuesday afternoon at East Haven High School, and he said more school systems are adopting the program.

“Giving yourself the power to make your own informed decision during these fluid situations, that’s the new model moving forward. That’s best practices for sure,” Murgo said.

The fire and police departments were trained first in 2019. Plans to train public school staff were slowed by the pandemic, but he said they finished their training in May.

Now, everyone in the school system is trained to evaluate a critical threat and determine the best response.

“If you know that the threat is on the other side of the building, you can make your own decision on how you respond to that threat,” Murgo said.

“I agree to that program. I’m a grandma and I do agree to that,” said Lois Abate, who was dropping off her grandson to band practice. “It’s scary when they go to school. We never know what’s going to happen. We never had that when I was young and I really think they should have it, for protection.”

Murgo agrees. The father of two said the program helps him feel better about school safety.

“As a father of two girls myself, it’s comforting to know that the school system values the partnership with the police department and the fire department in an effort to keep all of our kids safe," Murgo said.

Now that East Haven school staff are all trained in ALICE, Murgo said the next step is providing kits for teachers and students to use during a violent or prolonged incident. The “Go Buckets” were provided by the Home Depot foundation, and include lights, disinfectant wipes, trash bags, gloves, heavy duty rope and toilet paper. East Haven Public Schools covered whistles, dry erase boards and markers.

The plan is to have 400 buckets in all the educational spaces across the entire school system.

“Classrooms, libraries, media centers, nurses' offices, anywhere that has a potential for people to occupy that space, we want a go bucket in there, too,” Murgo said.

They’re asking the public to help with one item Home Depot doesn't have that Murgo said is important.

“We want to outfit every single bucket in each learning space with a tourniquet," he said.

They’ll assemble the buckets on Aug. 9 at East Haven High School.

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