Homeland Security hosts school safety panel in Somerset County

Local News

SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — An assistant director from Homeland Security was in Somerset County Monday for a school safety panel.

According to a CNN report, there have been 22 school shootings in 2019. Congressman John Joyce and Brian Harrell, Assistant Director for the Infrastructure Security Division of Homeland Security, hosted the panel at the Somerset County Technology Center.

Harrell talked to members of the 11 school districts in the county on ways to up security measures for the upcoming school year at little to no cost.

“Today we have resources schools can use to really understand the threat but more importantly really focus on those mitigation measures to reduce risk at schools,” says Harrell.

One of those resources is a local Protective Security Advisor that can be contacted through Homeland Security who can assist in bolstering security at schools. Another way to improve safety is by reporting unusual activities.

“If you see something that’s out of place, that you’re reporting it to the administrations so that we can take a look at it and address it.”

Harrell also said another step is teaming up with local law enforcement and Reeder says his district has added 20 hours a week of police coverage.

“We were able to access funds from the state in order to have additional hours from our police department in Berlin which has been critical.”

Berlin Brothersvalley School District has also taken technological measures, including adding 30 cameras, upgrading older cameras and adding five panic buttons throughout the district.

Reeder emphasizes that keeping kids safe is a team effort.

“Partnerships with police, partnerships with our health service folks partnerships with our emergency services contact we have. It’s a community effort. School safety, community safety is a community effort.”

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