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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
School News
District 24 to bolster security
Board hears from expert, weighs options
Herald file photo
An independent security expert has recommended changes at the main entrances of District 24's elementary schools.

An independent security expert has recommended a series of changes to improve safety in District 24 starting at the main entrances of the three elementary schools.

Frank Shea, president of the Alpha Group, a private investigative agency, spoke to the Board of Education and the public on Feb. 27 on ways the district can improve security in the wake of the school shooting in Newton, Conn. three months ago. Shortly after the shooting, board members asked to have an outside consultant review the schools and make recommendations make the buildings safer.

Shea said he was concerned about the current system in place in District 24. When someone comes to the main entrance, the monitor lets them in and has the visitor sign in. Already, Shea explained, there is a problem. “You’ve just allowed a person into that school,” he said. “When that door is opened, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Instead, Shea recommended that a uniformed security guard be placed at the front desk of each school. When someone comes to the door, they would have to hit a buzzer. The security guard could then see the person’s face through a camera and talk to the visitor through an intercom, then decide whether or not to let the person in the building.

Next, Shea said, the visitor should have to give their ID to the security guard to be scanned in. A computer would keep a record of that person’s visit. Shea said that if someone isn’t allowed into the school, such as a parent with an order of protection against them, the computer would show that and the guard knows not to let them in.

The system should apply for everyone, Shea said, including deliverymen who often use back entrances. Teachers and staff members should all have to use the main entrance as well, he explained.

Shea said the only time another entrance should be used is when teachers are bringing their students in from an outside activity, or when a visitor is severely disabled and can’t use the front entrance.

The security guard should be able to view security footage from all cameras around a school’s property, Shea said. He said the current camera system is adequate but could be better.

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