In a district with roughly 13,000 students and 2,000 employees, Newburgh Enlarged City School District’s Director of Security John Young, a former City of Newburgh Police Department Lieutenant with 20 years of experience, knows the value of maintaining the safety of students and staff in an ever changing world. Following tragedies such as the attacks on Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, school security has become a top priority for districts across the United States.
Throughout the year, Young acts as a liaison to outside agencies including the Town of New Windsor, Town of Newburgh and City of Newburgh Police Departments, to initiate drills and training which keep student and staff safety at the forefront for all security guards as well as building staff. “Security is everyone’s responsibility,” explained Young.
During a recent school day, Young collaborated with the Town of New Windsor Police Department’s Sergeant Robert Doss to run intruder drills at several NECSD schools. Intruder drills involve a plainclothes officer that is sent into the building as a decoy. The ‘intruder” travels around the building before being stopped by a member of the school staff. The drills keep staff vigilant for individuals who do not belong in the building. “The security guards, in addition to our teachers and other staff members, are familiar with who should be in the building and which individuals do not belong. These drills keep our employees engaged to make sure that only authorized personnel and visitors are in the buildings at all times,” Young said of the drill.
Sergeant Doss explained that in a time of a budget cuts in school districts and municipalities, partnerships and collaborative efforts are a win-win for everyone involved. “We need everyone’s cooperation. School employees should have security on their mind,” Sergeant Doss explained. “The measures that they take can have a huge impact.”
In addition to implementing drills, training and procedures in NECSD buildings, Young also works on behalf of the District to collaborate with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and local police agencies to bring police canines specializing in narcotics and bomb sniffing into the schools, which benefits both the dogs and their handlers, as well as the District. “These partnerships give us the opportunity to bring in the police canines from outside agencies, and have them become familiar with the layout of the buildings and school property should an emergency situation arise. This not only benefits the canines and their handlers for training purposes, but the school building as a whole. When we go into lockdown for these drills, it gives the students and staff an idea of how a scenario might play out,” explained Young.
For many districts, preventing and planning for emergency scenarios is often a topic that is not addressed until the time is too late. “Our partnerships with outside agencies are important in a time of budget cutbacks. The drills and resources provide us with invaluable training at no additional cost to the District. By keeping security in the forefront and raising the awareness of all employees across the District, we can work together with these outside agencies to create safer schools and communities,” explained Young.