He was part of the exercise carried out by the Cherry Hill police Tactical Response Team, which will be repeated at Cherry Hill High School East next week. The half-day session was aimed at developing a comprehensive update of the district's crisis-management plan, which is done about every two years, officials said.
"Nobody move!" the officer shouted, demanding to know the whereabouts of a certain school official.
"What are you going to do?" Carney asked the administrators.
It's a question that weighs on the minds of school officials throughout the nation.
While students have been considering back-to-school fashions or enjoying lazy days at the Shore, principals and their staffs have been pondering how to better respond to bomb threats, chemical spills, or a rampage killer.
Carney walked school officials through a "lockdown procedure." Teachers, he said, should lock their doors and move students against a wall to protect and conceal them. Shades should be kept open. Witnesses should note every detail about the assailant.
Then, a six-member column of tactical police in protective gear entered the room, pointing assault weapons in pursuit of the intruder.
"If you don't have a plan, you have mass chaos," said Mike Nuzzo, the district's director of security and a 27-year veteran of the Cherry Hill Police Department.
School officials are being asked to develop crisis-management plans tailored to each school and distributed to public-safety agencies. The plans will identify "action teams," complete with evacuation coordinators, media-relations contacts, triage specialists, and facilities point-people who know every nook of school buildings.
Meanwhile, the Police and Fire Departments are updating their maps of schools, creating computer-generated building plans with such details as emergency exits and the location of utilities.
By coordinating crisis response among school and public-safety officials, Nuzzo said, emergencies can be dealt with or defused more effectively.
He said administrators would also put together crisis-management kits with attendance lists, medical-emergency contacts, phones, safety vests, floor plans, even a bullhorn.
Carney referred to last year's Columbine massacre, in which two teenage boys killed 12 students, one teacher and then themselves after storming a high school in Littleton, Colo. He said that while such a tragedy might not be preventable, the risks can be reduced.
"We can only keep tragedy from becoming catastrophe," he said.
Carney recommended establishing a "closed-door policy" for schools, limiting access to one door and monitoring that door at all times. While giving a joking nod to Big Brother, he suggested video surveillance linked to secure Internet connections available to police, fire and school officials.
He also recommended issuing students, teachers and visitors visible identification cards.
District spokeswoman Gail Cohen said all doors in schools apart from the main entrance are locked from the outside. High school students are issued identification cards, but not all students wear them, she said. The district also employs four unarmed school police officers who patrol the campuses of Cherry Hill schools. The district spends about $200,000 on salaries for security personnel, Cohen said.
Mary Stead, principal at the Barclay Early Childhood Center, reported that people often left the doors open at the center, where more than 200 parents pick up their children, ages 3 to 6, daily. Another issue, she said, is child custody; disputes can easily spill over to the school "if a parent is intent on seeing their child."
"It puts us in a bad position," Stead said.
Stan Sheckman, Kingston School principal, said the session was important because it gave school and public-safety officials an opportunity to introduce themselves.
"This is good because it connects us with the people at the other end of the telephone call," he said. "We're all concerned about the unexpected."
Martin Z. Braun's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org