POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 39 NEW GLASGOW— Students returning to school here this week are a bit safer thanks to an emergency response and crime prevention system introduced by town police. The two-prong system involves a database of school activities and a detailed collection of information on each school in the town that will improve response time when there’s a school emergency, as well as identify potential problems before they develop into undesirable activity, said community policing officer Const. Ken MacDonald. Schools across Nova Scotia are in varying stages of introducing emergency response initiatives, he said. New Glasgow’s FBI-developed database is called School COPS, an acronym for software named School Crime Operations Package that has proven successful in the United States, Const. McDonald said. It took almost two years to key data into the program, so that the software keeps track of police visits to the schools, whether in response to problems, or for presentations and other proactive roles. The programs record the location and times of problems like schoolyard fights, and collates the data so police and school personnel can take steps to prevent them, Const. MacDonald said. “It’s a school crime reporting system strictly a resource so we can target problems effectively,” he said. If the data shows that most fights take place in the parking lot after school in early October, steps can be taken to prevent the circumstances leading to the incidents. But without the hard data, staff and police may end up paying extra attention to an issue that doesn’t need it, while a problem goes unaddressed, he added. “School criminal activity has not changed in terms of frequency over past years, it’s just different,” he said, adding that horrifying events like murders at Columbine, Colo., Tabor, Alta., and Montreal schools spurred the project forward. The second part of the New Glasgow program is a comprehensive emergency response plan, similar to the School Action For Emergencies program developed nationally by the RCMP. Police catalogued floor plans for each school, aerial photos of the school and surrounding properties, locations of heating ducts or fuel tanks, and a myriad of other information tidbits to provide a complete image of the building’s exterior or interior in the event of an emergency. Whether the emergency is a fire, chemical spill or intruder, police have plans ready — backed up with hard copies in case of a power outage — to evacuate students, handle the problems, inform parents, provide medical care and other responses. “This is the police end. Chignecto-Central schools have the Zero to 30 program that tells staff what to do in an emergency until police arrive,” Const. MacDonald said. Police don’t want to waste time during an emergency looking for a key to open a particular door, or trying to reach a particular official, so that kind of information should be available beforehand, he said. “Planning is crucial to minimizing confusion and saving lives, and it allows us to deal with emergencies more effectively,” he said. “The interesting thing about this is that every school is different, and we have a system that can deal with every specific school.” ( As originally published The Chronicle Herald September 2007 By MONICA GRAHAM Cops Tracking Some Schools New Glasgow police Cpl. Joe Dipersio studies the forceʼs new school emergency response system, now operational after months of preparing data and keying it into police computers. (MONICA GRAHAM) FBI-developed system to help police stop crime, respond faster in New Glasgow