Police summary of post-lockdown debriefing: ‘Rest assured’ we are prepared

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MANCHESTER NH – The Manchester Police Department hosted a non-public meeting on September 30, 2014 for multiple members of the Manchester Police Department, Manchester School District, New Hampshire State Police, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, Catholic Medical Center staff and Mayor to review procedures during the Sept. 25 lockdown at West High School.

Manchester Police Chief Dave Mara facilitated the hour-long debriefing between the various agencies to go over the incident, which was the direct result of a former student who had entered the school with a handgun. The handgun was later determined to be a pellet gun and the former student – Damian Johnson –  was ultimately charged with falsifying physical evidence, criminal trespass and disturbing school in session.

Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston invited Assistant Superintendents Karen Burkish and Dave Ryan, as well as West High School Principal Christopher Motika and a number of other high school, middle school and elementary school principals and assistant principals.

The Commander of the Manchester Police SWAT team, Lt. Mark Sanclemente, provided a detailed overview of how and why the SWAT team was activated in response to the initial call from the high school. Lt. Sanclemente spoke about the safety aspect of the event and reiterated the fact that the principal and various staff members of Manchester High School did an exceptional job during the lockdown. He also mentioned the various element leaders of the SWAT team, who alongside many uniformed and plain clothes officers worked safely and methodically throughout the multiple school buildings to ensure a favorable outcome.

Dr. Livingston spoke to the visiting school administrators and outlined positive feedback that presented itself in the aftermath of the lockdown. She also reiterated the fact that all protocols were followed and noted that we can always do better in each and every situation. Communication and the time of the incident were discussed and, overall, we hope to devise a better communication strategy between the school district, police department and the media.

Catholic Medical Center staff members participated in the debriefing. They advised the group that they were fully prepared on the day of the lockdown and were more than ready to act on a moment’s notice. They were prepared to implement their emergency plan in the event of any dire situations. Fortunately, they were not needed, but again it shows the collaborative efforts in place between the multiple emergency organizations within the City of Manchester.

Ultimately, Queen City residents can rest assured knowing the professionals in Manchester, New Hampshire, are well trained and well prepared for each and every emergency situation that arises.

About this Author


Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!