APS officials plan to start surprise active shooter drills

Local school districts are checking their own security plans after Florida shooting

ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools officials said school safety is a top priority for the district.

District officials said they received numerous inquiries about school security procedures and preparedness for active shooter incidents after a deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday.

Officials said they have several plans and procedures in place to keep students safe, and they are constantly reviewing and updating those plans.

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The plans include staff that are trained to report suspicious persons and activity, controlled access to every school building and 4,500 cameras across the school district with a live feed into the Atlanta Police Department.

The district's executive director of safety and security said each high school and middle school has metal detectors and resource officers who are trained to respond to active shooter scenarios.

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Dr. Marquenta Sands Hall said schools are also required to conduct several drills throughout the school year, and she wants to start doing surprise active shooter drills.

"Let's get back out and ensure that we are doing those impromptu drills, so we know that the schools are ready when it comes," she said.

Hall said there are no plans to arm teachers.

"Safety and security is a law enforcement function. We are armed and we are prepared," she said.

Hall said her 70 officers and other district staff monitor any suspicious activity they hear about on social media. She said students should speak up if they know of a fellow student who may have violent tendencies.

"We need our students and our staff to be aware and be ready to alert authorities when anything has penetrated that school environment," she said.

The Florida school shooting suspect had been expelled for bringing a gun to school. Hall said APS keeps an eye on students expelled for violence in case they try to return to school property.

"It is not unusual for us to issue criminal trespassing warnings and list people who are not to return to our property," she said.