With the events which unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week, many here consider the issue of safety at Prince George High School. For the start of the 2015-2016 year the school upgraded it’s security with regards to entry into the high school. The following is the story which ran two years ago written by reporter Hydeia Nutt.
School shootings, threats, and other incidents are becoming more common in the United States. In the past two years, America has had approximately 153 school shootings, which averages out to one incident a week. The most targeted places are college and high school campuses. To help keep Prince George County high school safe, new security changes have taken place.
Locking every door in the school is of vital importance to keep all staff and students safe. The new security changes are impacting the school day by day. It has both its pros and cons. Despite the cons, however, it is keeping people safe while they are getting an education and those who are educating.
“To try and regain control, the old locks have been disabled and new ones added,” Officer Butch Pearson said.
The school was built in 1977, which means many keys have been issued to the building. A part of keeping the school clear of danger and dangerous people, are making sure that a select few people have access to the main doors. Amongst the few people are the higher authority such as the security, the principal, the assistant principal, etc.
“It is electronic, it can be set up to lock and unlock all the doors at a certain time. Depending on who you are, you will have an electronic key to have access when you need it,” Pearson said.
When someone uses the electronic key that was issued to him or her, it is documented. The system documents: who used the key to which door and at what time. In the past it was easy to get inside the school doors. The main door in the front of the school building was always unlocked during school hours. However, this year all doors are closed, locked, and cannot be opened unless you follow certain procedures to get inside.
“If the card is ever loss or stolen it can be deactivated and the person can be issued a new one,” Pearson said.
The authorities are prepared for mistakes to be made. Even if someone is being careless or makes a mistake and losses the key, it is no good of use once it has been reported and deactivated. That is the special part about the new security system. Having regular keys to get inside doors are a hazard because if lost someone can find it and use it to their own advantage. It is not easily secured. People can make copies of the key. The only way to solve the problem would be to change all the locks on every door of the school.
“If it is a lot of people at the counter you cannot see who is standing at the door. Or if it is just one person at the desk it can be difficult too,” Sandra Grant said.
Although the new system works, it can be a hassle to work with. The workers at the front desk cannot open the front doors if they cannot see who it is. At times, it is difficult to see who is at the front door if it is constantly being blocked. The people who are at the front desk have to make sure they are not letting anyone who looks questionable and suspicious inside the building. Before anyone can enter, they have to push the green button until someone at the front desk unlocks the door. But the process may not be as easy as it seems.
“When you scan the visitor’s license, the raptor picks up on things such as information that is on the license. Then it would come up as a red flag. If that was to happen, a higher authority would have to escort that person off of school premises,” Grant said.
To get even more into securing the staff and students while visitors are inside the building, the visitors must sign in and also have their license scanned. Having their license scanned is like a mini background check on that particular person. The raptor, which is an installed system on the computer, picks up the persons license number, birth date, and other information . For instance if the person is a pedophile a red flag comes up and notifies the person who is scanning the license that person should not be inside the building.
Aside from having a new “high-tech” security system this year, there are other ways to keep students and staff safe in case an incident ever arises. Doors to all the classrooms should be closed at all times, along with the hallways being clear. As the requirements are now, students should have an agenda planner and school ID while walking in the hallways. Staff should have their IDs on them as well. Having the proper items while being in each part of the school is another way to help make sure unwanted people are not on school grounds.
“[We will be working] on a training video for the staff and students to help in a code red lock down. They will be forced to stay in the room and shown things that they can do to better protect themselves,” Pearson said.
A code red lock down is the invasion of an intruder, terrorist, or someone being held hostage. The higher authorities in the building are all for safety. They are willing to tell people of any technique or new information on safety. They are aiming to make school grounds more safe and comfortable for the people.
“A pro is that not just anyone can get into the school. A con is that it makes me late all the time,” Abigail Pannill said.
As mentioned before, all doors are locked at a certain time. In the mornings, there are only a few doors that are unlocked for students and employees to enter through. This causes a delay for some students trying to get to class. Some students may have a longer walk than others to get inside the building if they are drivers and depending on where their parking spot may be located.
It is a hassle getting to class at times or getting inside the building in general because of the new security system. Although there are some difficulties it is managing to keep every student, staff, and faculty member safe. The new system may be the perfect touch and the first step to preventing any harmful incidents.