Charles County’s Emergency Services Donates Six Public Safety Radios to Schools

September 29, 2018

Administrative teams of six Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) recently received public safety radios to directly communicate with first responders if a life-threatening emergency arises at a school.

The digital portable radios — Motorola XTS 5000 models — directly connect schools with Charles County’s Department of Emergency Services, prompting a faster response by first responders, said Jason Stoddard, director of CCPS safety and security. The radios were given to Indian Head, Eva Turner, Malcolm, Dr. Gustavus Brown, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy and Dr. James Craik elementary schools.

“Each school has a unique security issue,” Stoddard said. Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy and Malcolm are remote, sitting in locations that could increase response time. Eva Turner, Dr. Brown, Craik and Indian Head have open floor plans. “[The radios] are improving our ability to communicate … to expedient notification of emergency services and get help [to schools] faster.”

The county’s department of emergency services donated the $5,000 radios to the six schools. With the aid of grant money, Stoddard and his team are striving to place a public safety radio in all CCPS schools by the end of the school year. The radios are among safety enhancements that are happening in county schools as part of CCPS’s See Something, Say Something initiative. Updated background checks for employees and volunteers, reconfiguration of school entryways, construction of walls in open space schools and an online reporting tool have been implemented over the summer. Safety enhancement projects continue throughout the county.

At Malcolm, Principal Mary Finneran and Vice Principal Patricia Mooring learned how to use the public safety radio from Chris Thompson, assistant chief of the county’s fire/EMS communications. With the radios, schools will be able to directly reach emergency services if a life-threatening situation arises that demands assistance, cutting out the need to call 911. Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2014, Thompson has been pushing
for enhanced safety features at area schools. “I’m ecstatic this stuff is happening,” he said. “These are kids and we need to care of them.”

Teachers at Malcolm will soon each get a walkie-talkie to make interschool communication easier, and the public safety radio brings peace of mind, Finneran said. “It does make us feel safer,” she said.

“It’s a great first step,” Stoddard said. “Little wins equal momentum.”


Chris Thompson, assistant chief of the county’s fire/EMS communications, right, shows Malcolm Elementary School Vice Principal Patricia Mooring, left, and Principal Mary Finneran, the features of the public safety radio they will use if an emergency arises at the school.