Haverhill Council Pushes for Security Audit in All Public Buildings

With last month’s fatal school shooting in Parkland, Fla., still fresh in their minds, city councilors on Tuesday asked police, school and municipal officials to rate the safety of all public buildings in Haverhill.

Council President John A. Michitson (pictured) said a letter should be sent to the mayor and school superintendent to perform a physical security audit in all schools and municipal buildings.

The safety check should answer the following questions, Michitson said:

  • What are the threats?
  • What security measures do we need to meet these threats?
  • What are the best practices that other cities are using?
  • What are the specific gaps that we have right now in the security we’re providing in our public buildings?

Michitson called for quick action on the security improvements identified in the audit, saying some should be implemented immediately, while others should be included in the next fiscal year’s budget, which takes effect on July 1, 2018.

The inspiration for this safety check is the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which gunman Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students and teachers. Surviving students from Stoneman Douglas have kicked off a national conversation about gun violence in schools.

On March 15, a national student walk-out marked the one-month anniversary of the shooting. Many Merrimack Valley students, including those at Haverhill High, planned to participate but were prevented from walking out of class by a snow day.

The council president noted that many Haverhill students took part in a protest rally in Boston instead.

“I want to congratulate Haverhill students for participating in the national walk-out to protest gun violence after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,” Michitson said.

Councilor William J. Macek suggested that the council send a letter to the city’s legislative delegation, linking the danger of school violence with the need for mental health services and the money to pay for them.

“This has to be more than turning our schools into barricaded areas,” Macek said.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle asked that the School Committee be included in the project, as well.

Councilors said they also will rely on the expertise of Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro.