Response time is a critical element to the safety of students under siege on school campuses around the nation. AlertPoint, an alarm system attached to the badges of every school employee is an answer to the angst running high among parents, teachers and community members after the Parkland massacre. Cobb County Public Safety Department (CCDPS) in partnership with Cobb County School Police and Cobb County School District (CCSD) introduced the safety alert preparation just days after 17 children were cut down by a lone gunman in Florida.
Codes on the equipment include RED, to signal a total lockdown of the property, YELLOW, indicating a medical crisis, and other color codes for lesser emergencies. All school sites in Cobb are projected to the have Alert-Point by summer. Educational facilities have several access points and the devices will allow first responders to pinpoint exact locations of a threat, and quickly move to minimize casualties that can happen in an active shooter situation. Each school principal also can ask CCDPS to help map out a plan for optimal protection, as was reported by Chief Register during the Faith Forum on February 19th.
With all staff armed with this tool, it takes a push of the button on the badge to warn authorities of imminent danger. This can be really effective considering all staff will be wearing the device. “This is really good,” said one of the parents during Campbell School Council meeting March 12, “Think about it, who knows better than a facilities manager who is supposed to be in the building?” In addition, the doors of every Cobb school will be re-keyed after some 20 years, according to a report by Community Affairs Office Jamar Hicks at the Cobb Faith Partnership meeting on March 21.
Campbell High School faculty and parents were briefed during that council Meeting by Sergeant Phil Bradford of the Cobb County School Police force. He demonstrated for members of the council how the combination of the campus floor plan, AlertPoint and vigilance among staff can save lives. Moreover, each school principal can ask Cobb County Police to help map out a plan for optimal protection, using the “suitcase” protocol. The layout of the building is stored in a briefcase, which will permit officers to create a defense plan to neutralize an issue when they arrive on the scene.
Cobb County Police will conduct surprise inspections to ascertain how far they are able to go into the hallways before being stopped. Based on predetermined standards for operations, the institution will be graded, and any failures will be addressed for improvement.
Other important factors to school safety include a culture where student See Something and Say Something when they recognize suspicious behavior in and around their school; as well as in-school drills each semester to prepare the school body in case of emergencies.
While many schools in Cobb have cameras to detect visitors before granting them access, high schools are open. Because of the activities of those teenagers at higher levels, it can be more difficult to secure. Dr. Jeanne Walker of Campbell, reacting to parents’ concerns, decided she would lock all doors on her grounds. Fire code demands exit points. Children will be able to leave through the doors at Campbell, but not enter without permission.