School safety hits home for Fermi High School community

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Wed., Dec. 19, 2012
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Schumann answers an audience member's question at a public meeting on Dec. 18. Photos by Colin Rajala.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Schumann answers an audience member's question at a public meeting on Dec. 18. Photos by Colin Rajala.

The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, which left 20 students and six adult staff members dead, hit particularly close to home for students, parents, faculty and members of the Enrico Fermi High School community who had dealt with gun threats earlier in the week.

“Last week there were three individuals, all juveniles, that had made comments about guns and things like that,” said Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza. “I can assure you that anytime we get those complaints we take those extremely seriously, as we did these three cases.”

Sferrazza said the Enfield Police Department investigated all three incidents, talking to the person accused and parents of the accused, as well as visiting their homes to determine if it’s a viable threat with respect to guns being available to the accused. In all three cases, the police found that no guns were ever in the school and that there were no definitive plans to go through with any shootings, and the suspects were arrested.

Robo-calls - automated electronic messages from the school - were sent out to parents in regard to the incident.

On Dec. 17, rumors about a threat of a shooting taking place on Friday, Dec. 21, at the school’s pep rally began to spread. Enfield Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Schumann said that the rumor stemmed from graffiti found on a cafeteria table referencing the Mayan calendar's prediction of the end of the world on Dec. 21. Schumann said that the threat was non-credible and that he and Sferrazza plan to attend the pep rally. He also sent out a robo-call to parents to inform them of the situation and rumors.

“In my message to parents yesterday, I urged the parents to have frank conversations with their students and their children about the danger of spreading rumors, especially these types of rumors, because they do really make people anxious,” Schumann said. “We’re going to investigate all the rumors and not going to take anything lightly.”

In light of the recent events at Fermi and in Newtown, Sferrazza and Schumann attended the Enfield Town Council meeting on Dec. 17 and Board of Education meeting on Dec. 18 to answer audience questions and inform people about the actions being taken by the police and schools in regard to school safety. The police department has substantial training in active shooter situations like the Newtown incident, Sferrazza said.

Members of the police department, Town Council and Board of Education are creating a sub-committee to delve into issues of school safety. Initials concerns have raised the issue of locking all doors and having buzzers to allow guests into the schools. The police department will be present during crisis drills at the schools and will provide critique. Audience members applauded the efforts of the schools and police to provide a safe learning environment, but recommended following up on incidents with parents through additional robo-calls.

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