Deputies make security recommendations to local schools

By Jenna Lookner | Jan 24, 2013
Source: File Photo Hope Elementary School is one of the schools the Knox County Sheriff's Office is working with to make security recommendations.

Hope — Deputies from the Knox County Sheriff's Office are working with local schools to make security recommendations in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, said Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison.

Dennison said in an email she "sent teams to visit schools shortly after the incident [in Connecticut] to reassure the teachers and children" and initiate a supportive relationship between KCSO and the schools. Deputies have already visited Hope Elementary School and Union Elementary School. Deputies planned to visit Prescott Memorial School in Washington but had to cancel that visit due to weather, according to Dennison.

"We make suggestions we believe could make the schools more secure," Dennison wrote.

Hope Elementary School Principal Carol Hathorne said deputies from KCSO reached out to her about observing a lock-down drill at the school earlier in January, and later provided her with constructive feedback about what measures could be implemented to make Hope Elementary School more secure.

Recommendations made by deputies for the school include installation of buzzer entry at the front door of the school, which is presently the only entrance that is not locked, said Hathorne. She said she has been working to gather input from families on the recommended security measures and has received responses from about a half dozen families who have all expressed support for the security upgrades.

"Our concern, quite honestly, is changing the feel and scaring the kids. I said 'let's gather information before making a recommendation,'" said Hathorne.

Hathorne said the input of families has been solicited via a newsletter and she anticipates a more formal meeting will commence once formal recommendations are made. She added that administrators are in the process of gathering information from other area schools as well as collecting financial information pertaining to the cost of the security upgrades.

"I would invite a parent and community meeting before making any recommendations to our school committee," she said.

Hathorne said the school has "done a number of drills with law enforcement over the past few years," but those drills have mostly been limited to working with Maine State Police. She said she is happy to have an opportunity to work closely with KCSO deputies and is pleased that they reached out to the school.

Dennison stated Sgt. John Palmer and Deputy Nathaniel Jack recently completed D.A.R.E. school and that training will mean that they will be present in the schools more often.

"We plan to work in cooperation with the schools sharing a common goal. Deputies are to make more frequent stops at the schools," Dennison said in an email.

Hathorne said she plans to reach out to other area principals to discuss school security as well.

"This is not a quick change," Hathorne said.

Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at



Comments (2)
Posted by: FRANK ROSS | Jan 28, 2013 15:40

We always had both guns and ammo available when we were kids. Our father, a deputy sheriff and NRA instructor taught us to shoot as soon as we could hold a gun. We were expert marksman at 4 or 5 years of age. We knew that guns kill and we knew not to touch a gun unless we were told we could. We were taught to  check the gun whenever you picked up to make sure it was not loaded, even if someone told you it wasn't. Another thing we were taught was never point a gun at someone unless you were able to kill another human being. Is it a good thing to give teachers guns, I don't know, but if they are not ready to kill someone they are just supplying a firearm to someone who may not have one. What is missing today are morals. You can't legislate them and teachers have a hard time teaching them. Parents need to step up and teach their children to respect others and not to hurt their fellow man. Stop standing up for that child that you know is causing problems and get them some help. Frank Ross

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 25, 2013 09:03

Guns cannot kill without ammunition. We always had hunting rifles in our home but the ammunition was in a metal locked box. My children were taught safety while hunting and the dangers involved, at a young age. Parents have a reponsibility here to teach and talk safety and of course, then, lock up the ammunition. Mickey McKeever

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