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After Manchester YWCA tragedy, child visitation centers eye security
They include staggered arrival and departure times for parents, separate building entrances for parents, collaboration with local police, and metal detectors.
Police officer present
The supervised parent must empty all pockets and undergo a scan by a hand-held metal detector operated by a police officer.
The goal is to ensure the parents do not run into each other while on the property.
A police officer is on the premises at all times, outside in a hallway and is no more than 22 to 25 steps from the visiting, Flaherty said.
‘A big balance’
Phil Wyzik, executive director of Monadnock Family Services, which operates All R Kids Supervised Visitation Center in Jaffrey, said its procedures are similar to those at the Manchester YWCA.
“It’s a big balance of providing a secure location with the positive experience for the kid and family,” Wyzik said.
Before All R Kids opened, visitations were held at the Peterborough police station, not an ideal location for a parent/child visit, he said.
Scott Hampton, executive director of Dover-based Ending the Violence, said efforts are underway to receive federal grants to re-open a Dover center. Hampton, a psychologist who works with batterers and stresses child safety, said some centers run on a mix of federal, state, local and private donations.
Most came from grants from the federal Office on Violence Against Women; $35,000 came from the state victim assistance program.
“What centers need to do is come up with strategies for enhancing or ensuring safety,” Hampton said.
Some have off-duty police on duty. Others use security guards, Hampton said.
“There’s a lot of variability,” he said. “One thing that’s not variable is a focus on safety. They have to consider every family (using the center) as dangerous.”
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