Maggie: Back to school usually means new notebooks, new teachers and new clothes. But this year, it may also mean new security. Demetrius Pipkin checks out what schools from coast to coast are doing.
Demetrius: Cameras, checkpoints and lots of locked doors. Schools across the country are looking for new ways to keep students safe.
In Newtown, Connecticut, parents and students drove through police checkpoints to get to school. And there are other security measures around the school district, like more people monitoring who goes in and out of school doors.
This small suburb is where one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history took place on December 14th, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Even though school shootings are rare, communities everywhere wanted to brainstorm ways to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
More than 450 bills were introduced in statehouses this year on school security measures. Many of them are opting for smaller-scale upgrades, like the smart classroom door locks which can be locked from both the inside and the outside. Many are adding increased security officers and, in a few cases, teachers and volunteers are being allowed to carry guns on campus. You can see the measures being put into play all over the U.S.
Schools like this one in Ohio prepped their teachers by holding a drill that simulated having a shooter on campus who takes a classroom hostage.
Simulated shooter: Don’t make a move or the teacher gets it!
Demetrius: Sarah Zatik: It’s kind of emotional. And like with anything else that you want to be good at, you have to practice.
Demetrius: Police participated in the exercise too to time how long it would take to respond to the situation, and what they would do upon arrival. In Illinois and New Jersey, students got to participate in the drill as well.
Shayna Richardson: It was really realistic. I kind of got my adrenalin pumping.
Demetrius: Down in Waco, Texas, the police department is trying to shorten response times with a new system called COPsync911. It connects teachers and administrators directly to the five nearest officers in the area. It also sends an alert to every person registered in the system.
Police Chief Ken Boatman: We always want to stay one step ahead, and this is one way that I look at that we can stay ahead and make our schools that much safer than what they are.
Kaitlyn Robinson: I like to know that the police know what is going on in our school.
Demetrius: The program is now being offered nationwide.
Intercom: Go ahead.
Demetrius: Over in North Carolina, an elementary school is taking a more basic approach.
Dr. Eric Cunningham: The days of having open access soft targets are now over. We wouldn’t allow people to come into our home without first ringing the doorbell.
Demetrius: So now, that is exactly what visitors do when entering the school.
Intercom: Good afternoon. How may I help you?
Demetrius: A little added security that officials hope will go a long way to keep students safe.
Demetrius Pipkin, Channel One News.