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New Haven public schools say they are safer now

NEW HAVEN - When schools open in New Haven next Thursday, the leaders of New Haven's Public Schools are confident they will be safer than ever before.

After the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, the City of New Haven began revising their school emergency response protocols, including those involving an active shooter and fake fire drills.

“In many of the attacks that we’ve seen around the country, they been using fire alarms to get people to come outside and then attack,” said New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell.

But now, in New Haven, when a fire alarm is pulled, the response will change.

“Typically, the fire department would be dispatched, but now police officers are also dispatched,” said Campbell.

Additionally, schools must be more easily accessible to firefighters and police, which meant upgrading the key card access.

And, over the next several months, all New Haven public schools will have been equipped with security cameras that interface with all emergency agencies in the city.

“I can have access on my phone to all of the cameras,” said Will Clark, Chief Operating Officer, of New Haven Public Schools. “Police and fire, the first person responding, has it on their laptop. Fire has it on their laptop on their trucks.”

Another layer of safety: district managers and patrol officers are now visiting school buildings throughout the city.

“It’s to understand the buildings so that, if they do have to respond to a situation, they know the building well,” said Clark.

Then, there's streamlining communications through the city's mobile units.

In the New Haven communication center, one of only six mobile units of its kind in the state, the key word is interoperability. An example: VHF and UHF radios being able to talk to each other.

“A system like this allows us to, through computers, link the frequency bands together,” said Officer David Hartman, a spokesman for the
New Haven Police Dept.

And, officials say they've improved how they will deliver information to the public, thus helping to prevent an even more chaotic scene.