"If you see something, say something.''
That's the message school leaders are encouraging students to follow as Haverhill develops a better plan for safety and security at Haverhill High and other schools.
The plan includes having school resource police officers at schools during the summer, when summer classes and other special activities happen. Resource officers are currently assigned to schools only for the regular school year.
The School Safety Subcommittee met last week to discuss the importance of delivering that message, after a summer school student was seen carrying a gun at Haverhill High School, according to police.
"This kind of campaign would urge people to report anything that affects the safety of students and staff," said School Committee member Scott Wood, who is chairman of the subcommittee.
"It could be drugs, bullying, gang activity or any other of a number of concerns," Wood said. "This program has been used successfully across the country."
The safety subcommittee also includes School Committee member Gail Sullivan, Superintendent Margaret Marotta and police Chief Alan DeNaro.
Wood said the subcommittee typically meets once a month. Last week's meeting was held to discuss the Haverhill High School incident.
Police said the student fled the building and later was arrested, but officers did not find a gun in his possession and failed to find it during an extensive search on Wednesday of last week.
Much of the subcommittee's discussion at last week's meeting focused on safety assessments, which Wood said he first brought to the attention of the School Committee at its Sept. 13, 2018, meeting.
At that meeting, the committee voted 5-2 in favor of Wood's request to create the School Safety Subcommittee that regularly meets with police in an effort to be kept aware of changes in laws, such as the role and responsibilities of school resource officers.
"We've been talking about this for months," Wood said regarding assessments to be conducted by an outside consultant with experience in evaluating school safety.
He said that as part of a comprehensive security plan for Haverhill schools, the subcommittee decided on a number of new security procedures.
"One of the things we decided is to have school resource officers in school buildings over the summer, which is something new," Wood said. "The idea is to have an officer present for any security issues that might arise. Our school buildings have SROs (school resource officers) during the school year, but now we will have them over the summer, which is standard in many other communities."
The subcommittee is looking into the digital reporting app, "See Something, Send Something," a suspicious activity reporting tool that is being used across the country.
Wood said he learned about this app at a national school safety conference he attended last year in Florida.
"There are a variety of ways we can bring this campaign to young and old, including through social media, news media and during assemblies at schools," he said.
Wood said in addition to having school resource officers at schools during the summer and the "see something" campaign, Marotta agreed to reiterate to school staff the need to call 911 whenever an issue of school safety arises.
"It's not a new policy, but it is something we want to reiterate to staff so they are aware of what they should do," Wood said. "It should be common sense as to when to call police. When you see someone with a gun or a knife, you call police."