Police will converge on Edgartown School for armed intruder response drill

Police will converge on Edgartown School for armed intruder response drill

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State and Island public safety personnel will train Saturday morning for the worst case scenario.

State Police, Island police, fire, and emergency medical service personnel will converge Saturday on the grounds of the Edgartown School for a safety drill. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

State Police will join Island police, fire, and emergency medical service personnel Saturday, April 5, on the grounds of the Edgartown School where they will train for what was once the unthinkable, an armed intruder in the school.

Drill leaders want members of the public to be aware of the drill so they will not be alarmed by the presence of large numbers of police on the scene at the school.

“You drill for the worst-case scenario,” Edgartown deputy fire chief and ambulance coordinator Alex Schaeffer told The Times.

Mr. Schaeffer worked with the school and other emergency departments to develop the response plan. “We’ve never done a drill of this magnitude,” he said. “It’s the first time on the Island that police, fire and EMS from all towns have come together.”

It is all part of a response plan which has been in development since September, and follows a series of school shootings nationwide in recent years. No students will be involved in the drill.

Once it begins, police personnel and emergency vehicles, including a Massachusetts State Police helicopter, will converge on the scene. Access to surrounding streets will be temporarily limited.

The updated response plan is an Island-wide effort to protect students and faculty from an armed intruder. “The foundation that we’re putting forth here for our school could be put in place at any Island school, with a few changes due to geography,” Mr. Schaeffer said.

Response teams will not know what to expect, a strategy that the departments have used in the past to create realistic situations. “The whole scenario is like a movie, we’ve scripted it,” he said. “Not everyone knows what’s going to happen. We’ve given a time period, yes, but the scenario hasn’t been issued.”

The day is intended to be a learning experience — to discover what went right and what went wrong.

“We’re going to play it like any other day,” Edgartown police chief Tony Bettencourt said. “The officers will respond from home, which we’ve never done before. We’ll see how long it will take all the officers to prepare, get to the scene, how long it will take the other departments to get to the scene. Let’s try it, and critique our response.”

Drill leaders have been contacting neighbors of the school so that everyone is aware of the scope and magnitude of the training, Mr. Schaeffer said in a press release. “We hope, just like you, there is never an incident at the school requiring this response. However, the importance of all participating agencies knowledge and proficiency of this proactive plan cannot be understated. We appreciate your understanding of any inconvenience during the scheduled drill time. Thank you for your support.”


  1. A small inconvenience that ensures readiness is well worthwhile. I wonder if the school admin teachers are going to be involved?

  2. I think that it is a GREAT idea, I am VERY grateful that our law enforcement and all EMS and 911 is taking the steps to be prepared if something horrible like this should happen. I know people are thinking “On Marthas Vineyard, doubt it” however, I bet all the people involved in other school shootings didn’t think that it would happen to them either. GREAT JOB Edgartown!!!!

  3. What a waste.

    “It is all part of a response plan which has been in development since September, and follows a series of school shootings nationwide in recent years.”

    The cause of an overwhelming majority of these types of shootings is the indiscriminate prescription of psychopharmaceuticals.

    Go after the doctors who prescribe these drugs, and stop playing security theater.

    An ounce of prevention is worth 100 tons of this “cure”–SWAT teams showing up after people are dead.

    I remember being convinced of this shortly after Columbine. But here we are 15 years later, still with the predictable cycle of mass shooting -> calls for gun control -> increased security measures -> and, after the public’s attention has waned, sporadic mainstream news reports of the mental health “care” (i.e., drugging) the shooter was receiving.

    The “alternative” news media have long since known the first question to ask in these cases is: was the shooter taking or withdrawing from a psychiatric drug?


    1. Your argument doesn’t really make any sense.

      What you’re saying about mental health is certainly true but this police exercise doesn’t mean the island school system and social services aren’t focused on mental health as well.

      This is a drill for the police, who are obviously going to focus on policing. It’s a necessary exercise to keep our officers at the top of their ability, not just in preparation for shootings but for any type of large scale emergency that could potentially happen on our island. Other mebers of the community and school faculty are focused on mental health.

      I don’t know why you seem to be saying that it’s either one or the other. We don’t need to choose between police training and mental health.

  4. This isn’t about saving kids, it’s an exercise in saving incompetent elected officials. WakeUp Mv.

  5. A sign of the times we live in today. The Vineyard is no different than the main land. Never has been and never will. Anyone who claims otherwise is living in fantasy land.