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Norwood-Norfolk Central School to hold active-shooter training

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NORFOLK — Police agencies will descend on Norwood-Norfolk Central School today and Thursday, but not for an emergency situation.

They’ll be participating in active-shooter training during the school’s winter break.

While state police will lead the exercise, “they have invited law enforcement agencies in the area to participate as well,” Norwood-Norfolk Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie said.

She said law enforcement officers plan to conduct four training sessions over the two days.

“They’re going to use our school building to stage possible situations with an intruder or intruders with possible explosive devices. It’s really up to them as to how they set the stage,” she said.

Capt. Michael J. Girard, state police Troop B zone commander, Canton, said passersby at the school were likely to see little because the majority of the exercise will be inside the school.

“They’ll probably be seeing a mechanical robot that we’ll deploy there for training. Everything else is inside the school,” he said.

The exercise was planned because of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Mrs. Kirnie said.

She said that Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, “invited state troopers and Sheriff’s Department representatives to BOCES to talk to superintendents about how to keep our schools safer, to talk to us about our emergency plans.”

“Every school does have very formal, extensive emergency plans that we share with law enforcement,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

She said troopers offered to do safety walk-through visits to schools and asked if they could use the buildings for active-shooter training.

“It certainly helps hone their skills,” she said.

It also benefits the school districts where the exercises are held by giving law enforcement agencies a familiarity with the building, Mrs. Kirnie said.

“We are not having teachers or staff involved. We have chosen the break specifically for that reason,” she said. “In this case we felt there was more the possibility of people getting in the way. If staff were here, they would be pretty much confined to a space in their room.”

The district also will hold lockdown drills to hone emergency preparation skills.

She said a meeting was planned for this week with officials from the town of Norfolk and village of Norwood to start discussions “about using their police forces as a rotating presence in the school.”

This week’s drill and discussion about placing a school resource officer in the district come following a January lockdown after a Norfolk man was charged with bringing a BB pistol into the building.

Among the initiatives district officials have taken is to change their building access procedures beginning Monday when students and staff return from their midwinter break.

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