Morton Grove Cops:Tech May Make Schools Safer

As kids return to school today after winter break, Morton Grove Police Chief Mark Erickson stresses the police are working with schools on safety, and more security measures may be coming down the road.


The Dec. 14 Newtown, Conn. shootings are still on parents' minds today, as children return to school after winter break.

Morton Grove Police Chief Mark Erickson, who taught D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) classes in schools before he became police chief, said his department works closely with schools on safety issues, and maintains a daily presence around schools.

"We put such a high priority on this," he said. The department has a close relationship with school administrators, he added, and has done safety training with them as well as with neighboring police departments. Deputy Chief Brian Fenneley works specifically with school safety. 

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Erickson expects more safety technology will be made available to schools after the Newtown shootings.

"We all have the general feeling now the Obama administration is going to throw millions into this, so video could become the norm. The technology is out there to help protect children," he said, explaining that schools could put security cameras at entrances, playgrounds and other locations around schools. 

"We've already had those discussions around schools," he said. Additionally, each school has a way to instantly alert police of an emergency. 

While some school districts around the nation have talked about placing police officers at each school, Erickson said the question of whether that would be necessary and cost-efficient must be looked at.

"Would it be effective to have officers in the schools? Of course. Would it prevent someone from shooting? Maybe not, but it could mitigate the damage," he said.

"How much money as a nation are we going to be willing to throw at this?" he questioned.

School architecture also comes into play when security is discussed. Erickson said at some schools, people enter the building and stand in a holding area before they are buzzed in to the school. But while schools should make it difficult for intruders to enter, they also must make it easy for students to escape in an emergency, he observed.

Schools in Morton Grove include:

  • Park View School
  • Hynes School
  • Golf Middle School
  • MCC Full-Time School
  • Malloy Educational Center
  • Edison School
  • Melzer School
  • Jerusalem Lutheran School

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The Morton Grove Police Department sent out this statement regarding the Newtown shootings and school safety:

The Village of Morton Grove Board of Trustees and the members of the Morton Grove Police Department, in conjunction with local school administrators and teachers, are deeply saddened to learn of the massacre that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of the innocent victims. 

The foremost duty of our police agency is to protect our citizens; we are honored to serve, no matter the risk.  As all Americans have endured school related and similar type tragedies for the past decade, many questions have been raised about the safety of our children, our teachers and our school workforce.  The Morton Grove Police Department implemented our high priority School Safety Initiative in 2009, which includes proactive school neighborhood patrol, multiple school safety checks on a daily basis, active school visits, safety discussions with school administrators, and on-site tactical training in our school buildings by Morton Grove police officers.  We thank our school administrators who allow us to aggressively train for critical incident response in school buildings when they are available. 

Due to our initiatives and great partnerships, a higher police presence and visibility, as well as a proactive tactical response to any critical incident in our schools has been achieved.  We understand the realities of potential tragedy in any school related incident and recognize community outreach and partnerships are vitally important.  We continuously look for new and innovative ways to protect our children, and will continue to actively partner with our school districts and other stakeholders to achieve a positive and safe learning environment in our schools.

Pat Craig January 07, 2013 at 02:26 PM
How many school children have been killed by fire in the past 50 years? Answer, none. Ask yourself why that is. Are firemen so much better at protecting kids lives than policemen? Look around a school. You will see sprinklers, and fire resistant building materials, and fire extinguishers and fire hoses. All kinds of prevention and fire avoidance devices. The fire department works closely with teachers to educate them regarding what to do in case of fire. Schools conduct regular fire drills. Both teachers and students train consistantly on how to survive a fire. Does all this preparation make firefighters and teachers and school administrators paranoid? No, it just helps to protect the children in the event of the unthinkable. Does all this equipment and training cost money? Yes, it does. Aren't the children worth the cash outlay? What is our future worth? The "best" fire is one that is prevented. The "best" attack on children is one that is prevented. People react the way they are trained, but before we can "train" our teachers and school administrators we first have to stop denying that there are predators who would, (and have), hurt children... and train accordingly. Morton Grove has a fine and dedicated police force with competent and compassionate leadership. Let us face reality and allow our police to protect our children with the same grasp of reality that our firefighters already practice.


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