Brockton Police chief zeroes in on these safety problems in schools

BROCKTON — The Brockton Police Department received roughly 1,100 calls from schools across the district requesting help with a wide range of incidents during the 2022-2023 school year, said Police Chief Brenda Perez at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting.

Perez said that more than 80 of those calls came from Brockton High School, where staff have said violent fights break out daily in the halls and some students verbally and physically abuse faculty, among other safety and security issues.

So far this school year, as of Jan. 31, Brockton Police have received roughly 800 calls for intervention in schools all over the district, with about 40 calls from Brockton High.

“Our current trajectory appears consistent with the previous year,” said Perez, who noted she is a “proud” Brockton High School graduate, the daughter of immigrants and a lifelong Brockton resident.

Calls for service at the high school “encompass a broad spectrum” ranging from altercations to thefts, medical calls, missing persons and alarms, Perez said.

“Given the recent occurrences on school premises,” Perez urged school staff to call Brockton Police on the emergency 911 line or non-emergency number to report any incident “requiring our intervention.”

Perez provided the committee with a list of security concerns at Brockton High School and recommendations to help alleviate them.

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Governor rejects call to send National Guard

The update from Perez on security in Brockton schools at the Feb. 27 meeting comes as four Brockton School Committee members requested that Gov. Maura Healy deploy the Massachusetts National Guard to the high school “to assist in restoring order, ensuring the safety of all individuals on the school premises, and implementing measures to address the root causes of the issues we are facing.”

The request — which thrust Brockton into the national spotlight — was opposed by Mayor Robert Sullivan, who serves as chair of the school committee, and called the request inappropriate.

Healey rejected the call for the National Guard but said the state will fund a safety and security audit for all Brockton schools.

In a statement to The Enterprise Wednesday, Sullivan said his administration is “diligently working with our partners at the local, state, and federal level to bring stability to our school budget and safety to our schools.”

“We are looking to our elected officials at the state level for assistance and guidance to ensure that our teachers and staff have the appropriate tools to provide safe learning environments. We have been and will continue to collaborate with all partners who will work with us to improve our schools and return the focus to creating a safe and vibrant environment where our students and educators will thrive.”

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Security plan is 10 years old

Perez said Tuesday the district should conduct “comprehensive reviews and assessments” of security protocols every three years, but Brockton Public Schools’ security plan is approximately 10 years old.

“One proposed recommendation involves engaging a third-party entity to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the existing security infrastructure,” Perez said. “We’re happy to hear of Gov. Healey’s grant award that will allow the district to start with this process.”

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‘Centralized command center’

The district has hired a dozen safety and security specialists to monitor entrances and exits to Brockton High as some students enter and leave the school freely and let in individuals through unmonitored doors.

But Perez said these safety officers “lack adequate training and visibility” and overall there’s “a lack of clarity regarding their roles and responsibilities.”

Perez recommended the school create a “centralized command center” where officers can monitor all entrances and exits in real time, and establish adequate training and a “stringent vetting process” for security staff.

Teachers don’t have keys to classrooms

Most Brockton High teachers don’t have access to keys to unlock their classrooms, and many classrooms are left unsecured and unattended. According to Brockton High teacher Eleri Merrikin, who spoke at an emergency committee meeting on Jan. 31, teachers have found students “having sex and doing drugs and cutting class in empty classrooms.”

“Currently teachers are able to lock their classrooms but do not have the ability to unlock, leaving unoccupied rooms unsecured, presenting potential risk to the safety of students and staff,” Perez said Tuesday.

“Security of classrooms within the high school poses a significant concern,” she said.

Brockton Police Captain John Hallisey, who works at Brockton High, said at the Jan. 31 meeting that teachers don’t keep their own keys because it could present issues in an active shooter situation.

Why teachers don’t have keys? BHS students ‘having sex,’ ‘doing drugs’ in empty classrooms.

Classroom keys are held by floor teachers who are responsible for locking and unlocking rooms with a master key, but Perez said these master keys are given to unauthorized personnel and some have gone missing.

Perez said the school should consider a remote key fob or key card system for classrooms to keep them more secure.

Perez also said Brockton High students’ ID photos are often out of date, and she said the school should update student’s photos annually.

Hire a school security director

As an initial step to increase building safety, Perez suggested that Brockton High creates an administrative team to oversee school security, led by a director of school security, a position that currently doesn’t exist in the school system.

She said the security team should include school administrators as well as representatives from the Brockton police and fire departments.

According to Perez, school resource officers were only allowed on the first floor of Brockton High and couldn’t go to the second or third floor. But Perez said that rule, set by “a previous administration,” has now been changed.

“That’s since changed and we’re happy to hear that,” she said.

“Our school resource officers are here to integrate with our students and become a part of that school community,” she said.


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