The tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary will stand as one of those before-and-after days in America — things will never be the same at schools across Connecticut and beyond. “This was like our 9/11 for school teachers,” Richard Cantlupe, an American history teacher at Westglades Middle School in Parkland, Fla., told the Associated Press. Officials across the country are taking measures to make students and parents feel as safe as possible. From Los Angeles to Newtown, school districts heightened security this week — placing police officers outside schools and reviewing security procedures.
“I think it’s important that at this particular time we’re able to get everybody [to] feel good about schools, that they can feel safe at schools,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who said After the tragedy at Sandy Hook, schools across the country will reconsider their
options every K-8 school in the city would be visited by a police officer each day. “That’s my job and we’ll make sure that it happens.”
But some schools are also looking at long-term solutions to beef up security — drastic changes that would revamp school security as we know it, much like airport security was revamped after 9/11.
Sandy Hook could make getting into a public school far more difficult.
Mike Dorn of Safe Havens International, a nonprofit campus safety center, has been working in school safety for three decades. He sees controlling access as the chief way in which schools can ensure their students’ safety. Now he thinks administrators will be able to implement changes that would have been impossible a week ago.
“There are many school superintendents and principals who last week wanted to put better access control in their schools, that have been told they can’t, because the community would be in an uproar,” said Dorn, who thinks such initiatives will now encounter far less resistance, Dorn is a proponent of a high-tech system called Security Alert for Education (SAFE). With this system, teachers wear a pendant that amplifies their voice during lectures — but also has a panic button button that allows them to immediately alert 911 during an emergency.
Cameras mounted in classrooms are integrated into the system, as well. Scot Trower, superintendent of the Ryal School in Ryal, Okla., “out in the middle of nowhere,” had the SAFE System installed in 2010. An encounter a decade ago with a man with a gun in his back pocket demanding to pick up a student played into Trower’s decision to implement SAFE.
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