In the wake of the horrific act of violence that occurred last month at Sandy Hook School, schools nationwide have been analyzing their security measures. While a shooting rampage is not something that can be controlled, schools can provide additional security measures that include several panic buttons to draw emergency response teams to the site within minutes.
Before the month of January ends, Lincoln-Way High School District 210 will have a security management system featuring 911 panic buttons and the capability of screening visitors by running an instant nationwide background check. The database is updated regularly and identifies registered sex offenders as well as those with restraining orders. A visitor tracking system is included.
At a board workshop meeting Jan. 19 at Lincoln-Way Central High School, LWC Principal Steve Provis reviewed the basics of the program. For the last three years, D210 has been in the process of tightening its security system, said Provis, which includes mock lockdown procedures. The board voted Jan. 10 to install RaptorWare, a web-based security system design that was launched in 2003.
How it works
The system, which costs about $8,000 for installation at all four schools, consists of "a doorbell with a cover right under the secretary's desk" in the front office and at the entrance to the aquatic center. "It's a panic button to 911, that's a direct 911 call" for emergency situations.
On a daily basis, the system is designed to make sure that the visitors pose no danger for anyone on campus. No longer will visitors simply sign in at the front office during the school day, said Provis. They'll have to produce a driver's license or state ID that's scanned into a system where a nationwide background check is completed instantly. If someone has a ticket, that information can be manually typed in. Children under 16 will have to be with a parent, he said.
"If a hit comes up, a text (message) and email goes to the (on-site) Will County deputy and the administrators," explained Provis. That's a signal of a potential risk at the front office or the aquatics center, he said.
After the scan is completed, the visitor's photo will be taken and incorporated into a badge that identifies his or her precise destination and can track their whereabouts, Provis explained. The visitor is expected to turn in the badge before leaving the building. If they don't, said Provis, "we'll give them a call and ask them to return it." If the badge is not returned, it's invalidated within the system. In other words, he said, a person issued a badge one day would not be able to gain access on another day.
The system allows the school district at a glance to know exactly who is in the building, Provis said.
Before ordering RaptorWare, Provis said D210 did some background checking itself. Lockport Township High School District 205 had already implemented the program and offered D210 a hands-on overview.
Supt. Lawrence Wyllie expressed his appreciation to Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas for his input and assistance in regard to RaptorWare, a Houston-based company. The sheriff's department is an integral part of D210's overall security plan. For the last 10 years, each school has had a deputy on-site during the school day.
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