ADVISORY: In the wake of the terrible tragedy in Newtown Connecticut, and as a result of fielding several questions from the public in regards to our preparedness in dealing with a critical incident if it were to occur at the Holland Elementary School, I would like to share the following with the community.
As Emergency Management Director / Board of Selectmen member Kennedy touched upon during Tuesdays Selectmen’s meeting, the Town of Holland does have a plan in place. Our Incident Action Plan (IAP) is a 17 page written document containing general objectives which reflect the overall strategy for managing a critical incident. It includes the identification of operational resources and assignments, as well as attachments that provide direction and important information for management, mitigation, response and recovery.
Although the document is authored by the police department and distributed as general directives to department personnel, the plan was enacted after collaboration between the school, town administrators as well as the other pertinent municipal departments. The purpose of the plan is to enhance our operational capability when responding to and recovering from a critical incident at or near the school. As a community, it is necessary to collectively implement measures to mitigate against natural or human-caused occurrences which require an emergency response in order to protect life and property, prior to an event actually occurring.
In addition to identifying operational resources and assignments, the plan is structured to coordinate our allocated assets in a tactically effective method and identify strategic locations to be assigned with specific functions in order to ensure the operation is logistically sound. The structure of the plan also allows us to recommend guidelines to the school pertaining to lockdowns and critical incident management, determine evacuation procedures and establish communication protocols, all in an effort to enhance our overall strategy.
During school vacation week in 2010 The Holland Police Department hosted an active shooter training exercise at the Holland Elementary School which was conducted by the Massachusetts State Police STOP Team. This was a reality based training exercise in which officers participated in an active shooter response scenario. Although budget constraints at local, state and federal levels prevent first responders from attending these types of training exercises as much as we would like to, the Holland Police Department is dedicated to a continuing focus on training our personnel.
If any concerned community member wishes to meet with me to further discuss our preparedness plan please do not hesitate to contact me, however be advised the IAP document itself does contain information which is sensitive as it pertains to law enforcement and public safety operations, therefore is not for public dissemination.
Bryan C. Haughey
Chief of Police