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.”