• Security top of mind as students head back to school


    ATLANTA - As students head back to school at several districts across the metro, schools are reminding students to allow extra time to go through metal detectors.

    School security is a top focus of both teachers and officers and they are well aware of some of the dangers.
    “We have come up with an aggressive plan to have high visibility in and around the school, campuses," said Maj. Keith Meadows with the Atlanta Police Department.
    At the end of last school year, five people were shot during an off campus fight near Therell High School.
    Over the last two years Channel 2 Action News has documented several weapons making it past school metal detectors which are currently run by teachers and staff.
    This will also be the first school year with Georgia’s new gun law.
    Parents and visitors are encouraged to leave their guns outside, but Atlanta Public Schools doesn’t have a district wide plan to check people coming into all their schools.
    Channel 2’s Ryan Young talked with Atlanta police about how they will help the school system.
    “If officers see someone with a weapon we would ask them to engage them in dialogue to see if they have a student on campus, and we expect them to facilitate their visit while they are staying there on campus,” Meadows said.
    Investigators told Young more attention will be paid to school bus stops after several calls about strange men cruising school bus stops alarmed parents last year.
    “Same thing our parents told us, don’t talk to strangers. I think that’s really important. For kids moving forward, as they ID suspicious people I think it’s important for them to tell adults. Throughout the school year last year we saw that a little more,” Meadows said.
    Security cameras will play a big role in keeping students safe at all of Cobb County's elementary and middle schools.
    Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh has learned the district has added 11 school resource officers to help keep students safe.
    “It's a safe haven now because we have the security, the protection, some kind of way to kind of screen who's at the door," said Lovinggood Middle School Principal Angela Stewart.
    All it takes is a push of a button and office staff can screen visitors at all of Cobb County's elementary and middle schools. 
    A security camera system was implemented at schools last year. Over the summer, the district completed installation at all 24 middle schools.  
    Stewart says parents don't mind the extra step.
    "They have assurance at that moment, that it's all about the safety for their kids," Stewart said.
    "You never know when the next incident is going to occur," said Cobb County Schools Public Safety Director Ronald Storey said.
    Storey said that's why the district invested in both the buzz-in system and more.
    "We added 11 officers to our force and that helps us put an officer at each middle school so we have coverage," Storey said.
    Storey showed Kavanaugh how the system works. First parents have to ring the bell and the central office immediately sees who's at the door.
    "Every parent worries a little bit," said parent Breylyn McClain.
    McClain said the extra layer of security gives her additional peace of mind.
    "It's not an inconvenience at all. You just show your ID, press a button and you're in," McClain said.
    The cameras and the 11 new officers were paid for through SPLOST dollars.

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    Security top of mind as students head back to school