CHICOPEE – A hero who calmed a dangerous situation and protected young children

Police and school leaders in Chicopee, MA are recognizing the heroic actions of a school crossing guard to protect and calm students during a gun battle where a state trooper was shot Friday.  Campus safety can sometimes go beyond the school grounds as demonstrated in this incident.

Veteran school crossing guard Deborah Paquette downplayed her actions and instead gave credit to police officers. “They were the ones that protected us. They had the incident well under control,” she said. Police Chief John R. Ferraro Jr., Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette and Superintendent of Schools Richard W. Rege Jr. all praised Paquette for her actions during the start of nearly a three-hour gun battle on West Street that started shortly before 8 a.m. Friday.

This is by far not the first time we have seen educators and support employees perform bravely and effectively to protect students.  A school teacher in Mexico was praised last year for her similar efforts to protect and calm elementary students while a gunfight between drug gangs raged outside her classroom.  In another case in the Middle East last year, a campus custodian saved more than 300 students from injury and death when he realized that a man who was trying to enter a cafeteria had a bomb.  The custodian was killed when the man detonated the bomb but no students were injured.

School safety, security and emergency management require the training and empowerment of all school employees.  As this case illustrates, you never know which employee will be first on the scene of an incident and be forced to take immediate actions to save lives.


About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.