Security tightened after student brings pocketknife to Southbridge school

Security has been heightened at the Southbridge Middle/High School after a student who made threats against the school was found Tuesday with a pocket knife, school officials said.

The student, who has not been identified, is said to have made threats against the school and was removed from the building after the weapon was discovered, according to a letter sent home to parents from Southbridge acting superintendent Terry L. Wiggin.

The knife was not directly used in any threat, and no one was injured at the school, Wiggin said in a telephone interview.

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“We did have a lot of parents who chose not to send their children to school, and we respect that,” Wiggin said. “We ensured them that the investigation was prompt and swift. There is no danger to any child and we take the safety of their children very seriously.”

Wiggin said that there had already been a police presence at all school buildings this week throughout the district in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. on Friday.

“Most schools were doing something like this,” Wiggin said, adding that increased police presence will continue through the week. This is the last week of classes for students before winter break.

Wiggin said that over the next few weeks, security measures, both procedural and physical, will be improved. Earlier this week, discussions were already underway about installing panic buttons in all of the schools and how entrances can be altered so that intruders cannot gain quick entry.

“We want to be able to slow down someone long enough to get police time to respond,” Wiggin said. “Any kind of entry area can be defeated, but the idea is giving police time to respond.”

School officials are also looking at security cameras and making sure their video resolution is acceptable, and if not, they will be upgraded. Safety drills and procedures will also be reviewed and practiced more often, Wiggin said.

The incident is still under investigation by the school and Southbridge police.

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