School safety a priority for UHSSE, Hartford district


Victoria Perez '24

Security Officer James Etwaroo helps keep the school safe.

Schools throughout the United States practice a series of lockdown drills due to shootings that have occurred throughout the years.

The state of Connecticut requires that each school district practice a lockdown drill, an evacuation drill, and a fire drill. A fire drill must be held each month and a lockdown drill is substituted in every three months.

Hartford Public Schools in coordination with the Hartford Police Department practices Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE training). The district also monitors social media channels.

“ALICE training is a response to an active shooter, staff has done training with the Hartford Police Department, L means lockdown, E means to evacuate, and the last resort is to confront the shooter,” said special communications officer to the superintendent Jesse Sugarman. “If you have the option to get out of the building that is best. There is also a code that comes into this, active threat is when you rely on ALICE training.”

If you are close to the shooter you should lock the door and move anything that you can against it in order to barricade yourself in your location. If you are far away from the shooter Mr. Sugarman said that you should listen to where the sounds of the gun are coming from and move in the opposite direction to evacuate from the building.

There is also another training that school security officers and other staff members go through, crisis prevention intervention management of aggressive behaviors, this training is done online. The officers also collaborate with administrators such as principals, vice principals, etc.

“Our officers are trained very well for safety,” said Sergeant Hector Dones.

A school’s size determines the number of security officers that it has, a small school typically has two or three security officers, but a big school can have up to ten security officers. Sergeant Dones also said that a program school security officers go through is Leadership of School Safety under retired Chief Daryl K. Roberts.

School security officers have said that they support the training that they go through and that they enjoy their jobs.

“So far with the ALICE training, we know what to do in the event of an incident,” said school security officer James Etwaroo.

During ALICE training a lot of information is passed on to staff members and Officer Etwaroo said that he enjoys his job because he likes dealing with people and dealing with the public.

Teachers have also said that they feel safe in school and trust that the safety policies would protect them in the event of an incident.

“I feel like the safety of my job has not changed recently, it definitely changed when I was in college/high school and was thinking about being a teacher,” said mathematics teacher Nicholas Vavalle.

The first incident that changed how Mr. Vavalle felt about being a teacher was the shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook School in Newtown CT back in 2012, his mother also was a teacher at Weaver High School and had some instances of incidents happening so it is definitely more of a thought in his mind now. But it has not affected him in his day-to-day teaching. He also feels that because of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut has stepped up its drills to prepare for that kind of incident.

Students have said that they feel that we are doing all we can to be prepared for this kind of incident.

“I think we practice these drills regularly enough to be as well prepared as possible for any kind of incident,” said Isabella D’Agostino ‘25.

Hartford Public Schools also requires more lockdown drills than the state, and D’Agostino said that she feels very safe in school, and like Mr. Vavalle these incidents definitely cross her mind but they do not affect her day-to-day life in school.