BREWER, Maine — When it comes to protecting children in schools, it’s better to prepare for anything, Capt. Jason Moffitt of the Brewer Police Department said Thursday.
That’s why police officials, in partnership with Brewer High School, applied for a Secure Our School grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to purchase surveillance cameras, electronic locks and other security equipment for the school.
“We’d rather take some proactive steps to prevent anything from happening,” Moffitt said.
The community heard Wednesday that it was awarded a $20,483 Secure Our School grant.
“That’s awesome,” Moffitt said after hearing the news. “This will greatly enhance student security at Brewer High School.”
Once the security measures are put into place, the high school “will be a very, very secure facility,” Moffitt said. The funds will help “button down a few holes that were identified as problems.”
Officer Liz Kelly is assigned as the high school’s full-time school resource officer and provides another level of security, above “other steps we’ve taken in collaboration with school staff,” Moffitt said. The school department also has a resource officer at Brewer Middle School.
Brian Doyle, Brewer High School assistant principal, and Moffitt filled out the extensive grant application together.
“This grant funding will greatly aid Brewer’s law enforcement practices,” U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins said in a joint press release. “It is vital that community law enforcement professionals and agencies are adequately supported in their mission to keep our schools and communities safe.”
The federal Secure Our Schools program has been in place for years and will provide 50 percent of the total cost of adding the cameras and new locks at Brewer High.
“It is important to make sure that our schools have the resources necessary to improve safety,” U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud said in a statement. “I am pleased that the Department of Justice has released this funding for Brewer. It will boost safety measures that will help protect the community’s students and faculty.”
When the high school was built decades ago, security cameras and electronic locks, which are commonplace today, were not available, Superintendent Daniel Lee said Thursday.
“What this is going to do is allow us to put in security measures to bring it up to today’s standards,” he said, adding that the new Brewer Elementary-Middle School campus under construction on Parkway South will be equipped with similar surveillance equipment.
“By controlling access and increasing monitoring, we’ll be more likely to keep kids safe,” Lee said. “We’re delighted [with the funding]. We’re grateful and delighted. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make Brewer High School safer for all.”