Gwinnett County officials are teaming up to increase security at local schools following several campus shootings, including the massacre in Newtown, Conn., McNair Learning Academy in Decatur, and this week’s tragedy in Nevada.
Gwinnett County Police Chief Charles Walters announced the partnership between GCPD, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, Board of Education and Buford City Schools at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
At Tuesday evening’s BOC meeting, commissioners voted to allocate up to $5 million from 2014 SPLOST funds for an automatic alert system in each of Gwinnett County’s 132 schools. That’s if the SPLOST measure passes the November 5 vote.
The system would directly send a signal to the Gwinnett County 911 Center at the push of a button and eliminate the need for someone to place a 911 call. Cameras would also be installed at each school in the Gwinnett and Buford school systems. When the alert goes out, a live camera feed of the school will automatically be sent to the 911 center.
“Today, more than ever, parents are asking us to protect their schools and children,” said Bobby Crowson, Associate Superintendent of School Improvement and Support at the press conference. “This partnership will allow us to do this.”
“After the tragic events in schools elsewhere, I believe we must do all we can to protect the students in our public schools here in Gwinnett,” said Board Chairman Charlotte Nash in a release.
However, if Gwinnett County citizens do not vote in favor of the one percent special-purpose local-option sales tax, the project will not have the funds it needs to be completed.
“We started looking at security systems after Sandy Hook,” said Walters. “We don’t know when we’d have it up and running, but the work would begin immediately.”
There are currently emergency plans and responses for each type of school according to Walters. Under the current model, emergency responders have to wait until the first officer arrives on scene to receive an accurate image of what is happening on the school grounds.
“It will tremendously increase the response time,” said Crowson. He also notes that GCPS is not able to afford a resource officer at every school and this alert system would be a benefit in keeping the 169,000 students in Gwinnett County safe.
Neither Walters nor Crowson were aware of similar systems installed in any other schools in the country.
~What do you think about installing this system in Gwinnett and Buford schools? Do you approve of the Board of Commissioners' decisions to allocate potential SPLOST funds for this? Tell us in the comments section below.