MANSFIELD – Each second is critical to first responders when dealing with a crisis in a school building.

Effective communication between law enforcement officers can stop a situation from escalating, or in the worst of situations, be the difference between life and death.

Mansfield police and city school officials recognize this, and the two entities jointly introduced a collaborative effort Wednesday that would allow more effective crisis communication between law enforcement and school administrators.

Mansfield police will provide the district with three police radios, which will be worn by Mansfield High School principal Brad Callender, middle school principal Jason Goings and Sherman Elementary School principal Steven Rizzo.

The principals will use the radios to communicate directly with police in the event a critical situation occurs.

“I think we’ve seen through the years with school shooting incidents that (response) time is definitely a factor,” Mansfield police Chief Ken Coontz said. “If something were to go wrong inside one of the schools, we would have the school administrator talk directly with responding officers to give up-to-the-second information on where the responding officers should arrive.”

The idea, Coontz added, is to eliminate the time it normally takes for an administrator to relay information to a dispatcher, who in turn communicates that to officers.

All three principals received training on how to use the radios.

Coontz said the police department will provide the three radios to the district at no cost. Police hope they can get radios into the district’s remaining five buildings and eventually into other schools in the area.

The collaborative effort represents the most recent attempt by the district to bolster school safety.

Mansfield City Schools employs a school resource officer, as well as part-time school specialists who monitor the hallways and intervene in the case of trouble among students.

The extra safety supervisors, along with the new effort to equip principals with radios, are a part of the district’s state-mandated school safety plan.

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