Since CS K-12 Director of the Year winner Tim Knight took the helm of Berkeley County School District’s (BCSD) safety and security program four years ago, he’s implemented safety and security technology upgrades district-wide. Additionally, five new schools have been built with safety and security designed in from the preliminary meetings with the architects.
Every BCSD school has a Knox box placed in a strategic location accessible to law enforcement. The Knox boxes contain school master keys, detailed maps, school contact info and other important information.
“The boxes have been a great asset to us,” says Knight, who is BCSD’s safety and security director. Even with an electronic access control system now in place, “they are still important because there could be a situation when the technology doesn’t work and law enforcement will need to get those keys.”
BCSD also now has district-wide access control technology at all schools and office buildings, which provides access to those employees with district ID badges based on their individual job requirements.
“This has been a huge security upgrade for the district,” says Superintendent Deon Jackson. “This technology also gives us the power to remotely lock down our schools when needed,” including both exterior and interior doors.
Knight believes the access control improvements have been a blessing.
“The majority of schools have their doors locked all day long,” he explains. “In our schools with multiple sections, we’re able to tailor the system when our students are going from building to building. All of those doors are on timers, so when the bell rings the doors unlock. When the tardy bell rings, the doors automatically secure.”
Another upgrade was the installation of surveillance cameras on all campuses.
“We’ve got thousands of security cameras that are now high-definition IP models, which give us the ability to zoom in nicely,” notes Knight. “Those have already been helpful in many incidents.”
He has also provided expertise to the BCSD facilities department to upgrade school fencing, physical access control points, parking lot traffic-flow and signage. Panic buttons have also been installed in the main office and reception areas at campuses and administrative buildings.
“We have retrofitted some schools with secondary entrances in the main lobbies. For example, once a parent comes in through the front door, he or she is rerouted into the main office. Once there, we use the Raptor Visitor Management system,” he says. This system runs a check of U.S. sex offender databases, and each visitor is instantly screened against those of all 50 states. If cleared, the visitor is buzzed or let in.
“Having that physical security has cost us some money, but it has been very important,” Knight says. “Now the schools are nicely physically secured, so we can focus on training our teachers, staff and administrators.”
Ann Longmore-Etheridge is a freelance writer with more than two decades of experience writing about private security and law enforcement issues.
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