Post-Columbine: More High-Tech Security in Schools

In Allegany County, Md., heightened school security has become the norm in the 20 years since the shooting at Columbine High School. And more is coming in the form of visitor tracking systems.

by Teresa McMinn, Cumberland Times News, Md. / April 22, 2019
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(TNS) — The Allegany County public school system has made many changes to improve security since the Columbine massacre 20 years ago.

And there will be more to come.

The school board on Tuesday could vote on a school safety and security policy.

According to the proposed document, the school system’s superintendent will appoint a mental health coordinator whose duties will include “developing plans for delivering behavioral health and wraparound services to students who exhibit behaviors of concern.”

A school safety coordinator would also be appointed by the superintendent. The position would act as liaison between board of education, all local law enforcement agencies and the Maryland Center for School Safety, as well as supervise school security employees.

“Pursuant to the (Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018), the School Safety Coordinator shall be certified by the Maryland Center for School Safety,” the document states.

ACPS has nine school resource and safety officer positions that cover the district’s 22 schools on a rotational basis.

Another new security measure recently installed in the school system will require visitors to have valid photo identification.

“All middle and high schools in the Allegany County Public School System are now currently utilizing Raptor Technologies Visitor Management System to track visitors entering schools,” the school system stated in a news release this week. “Elementary schools will be online with this technology by the end of the month.”

The management system also instantly screens each visitor against the national registered sex offender database.

“Beginning next school year, the Raptor system will also be utilized when parents pick up students from school and will check visitors against Aspen in the event of custody or banned visitor issues,” the release stated.

Many district staff members have received active shooter training from the Maryland State Police, Cumberland Police Department and Allegany County Sheriff’s Office.

Additionally, ACPS, in cooperation with the Maryland Center for School Safety, monitors the recently launched Safe Schools Tip Line, which can be used to anonymously report potential threats to local schools.

To reach the tip line, call 833-MD-B-SAFE, visit safeschoolsmd.org, or download the SafeSchoolsMD app in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

©2019 the Cumberland Times News (Cumberland, Md.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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