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Massacre prompts security reviews

ALBANY, Ga. — Last week’s horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 20 students and six adults, has prompted a nationwide review of school security measures.

Though the Dougherty County School System currently has no “buzz-in” system at any of its 28 schools, Facilities and Capital Projects Director Bob Fowler says all the buildings are secure.

“All doors expect for the buildings’ front doors are locked 24/7, and at the majority of our schools the front entrance funnels traffic into the office,” Fowler said. “The other external doors are badge-access controlled. Teachers, administrators and custodial staff must swipe their badges for entry through those doors.”

Fowler added that there are cameras installed at each of the school’s exterior doors.

“After what happened last week, we are looking to tighten things up a bit,” Fowler said. “We are talking about adding an extra set of security doors at the schools’ main entrances, but we are still just at the talking stage.”

Much of the responsibility for school security falls on the 18-member DCSS Police Department and Chief Troy Conley.

Conley said Wednesday that the department has two resource officers assigned to the district’s four high schools and the South Georgia Regional Achievement Center.

One officer is assigned to each of the DCSS’s six middle schools, but no officers are assigned to the county’s 18 elementary and pre-K schools.

“My practice has been if we become aware of a threat, then we increase our awareness in certain schools and I will move officers as needed,” Conley said. “If we feel there is a credible threat, I will make adjustments on a case-by-case basis.

“We also have our own special response team of seven officers who receive additional SWAT training and would be called upon in the event we had an active possible shooter.”

DCSS Public Information Director R. D. Harter said this week that the entire system was on a “heightened state of awareness,” but that no security increases were planned for any specific schools.

In Lee County, Kinchafoonee Primary Principal Trina Muse said the school had just conducted a gun safety presentation a day prior to the Connecticut shootings.

“Earlier this week (Lee County Superintendent) Dr. (Larry) Walters had a meeting with all principals and had a systemwide review of security,” Muse said. “He just wanted to make sure everybody knew the plan. We later conducted an intruder drill.”

Comments

whodat 1 year, 3 months ago

Well, like most security measures, it sounds good on paper but in the school where I work, the plan is sorely lacking. There are multiple ways for anyone to enter the building, aided by “helpful” students who are so naïve as to think nothing of opening a “badge-accessed” outer door to strangers. None of the schools have line-of-sight monitoring of who enters and exits, relying on closed-circuit TVs in the office. Offices are very busy places and no one really pays attention to the TVs. There are signs on most front entrances that tell visitors they must report to the office first (to sign in and get a visitor badge) but you would not believe the number of times a parent has knocked on my classroom door, wanting an impromptu conference, without following this procedure. And no one stops them because they are not aware of the person being on campus! Look, anyone who is intent on murder and mayhem can do the deed at just about any school. The bloviating by Fowler and Conley to the contrary, the security just isn’t there.

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waltspecht 1 year, 3 months ago

Therein lies the problem. All the doors have to be able to be opened from the inside because of the fire code. That is supposedly how the Colorafo movie shooter got the weapons in. So are the schools secure? I think not. Unless these doors are alarmed, and there is a set reaction to lockdown when the alarm goes off. The precaution the badge access doors provide is a joke. Please tell me you have never seen them propped open while a school employee does multiple entries to get a bunch of stuff inside. Bottom line, alarm the doors, enforce the visitor policy, charge policy violators with Trespassing. Get serious with the safety of these students.

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