Heightened security: Cobb middle, elementary schools locking public out
by Hilary Butschek
August 06, 2014 04:00 AM | 7520 views | 5 5 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb County School Campus Police Officer Chris Ayers chats with sixth-grader Bo Benincosa during a classroom change Tuesday. Ayers is making his first week on the job at the school a pleasant one for students as he reassures them he is present for their safety.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Cobb County School Campus Police Officer Chris Ayers chats with sixth-grader Bo Benincosa during a classroom change Tuesday. Ayers is making his first week on the job at the school a pleasant one for students as he reassures them he is present for their safety.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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Elementary and middle schools in the Cobb School District will now be locked to the public at all times.

This year, anyone wanting to go inside a school will need to state their name and reason for entering in front of a camera and intercom monitored by front desk staff, said Ron Storey, the system’s public safety director.

The front desk staff at each school monitors the camera and can choose to press a button to unlock the doors of the school to let the public in. Anyone who works at the schools has a keycard that allows them access during work hours.

“It’s an added level of security,” Storey said.

A total of 93 elementary and middle schools had the cameras installed, which cost $279,000, said Jay Dillon, district spokesman.

He added high schools don’t have these cameras because students go in and out of buildings many times during the day to go to different classes.

Storey said the cameras were put in place to stop intruders from entering school buildings unnoticed.

“There’s no fool-proof system out there,” Storey said. “There’s always the possibility of someone intruding, but this cuts down on that possibility.”

John Adams, the chief of human resources for Cobb schools, said he thinks parents are happy with the security measure.

“We’ve had really good feedback from parents on that, so they did not mind that at all,” Adams said.

Another new addition will be more campus police officers.

Cobb will now station one police officer at every middle and high school after hiring 11 new campus police officers this year, Storey said.

Those 11 officers were hired using $402,000 from the school board’s general fund on May 29, Dillon said.

The campus police force that patrols the school district’s 114 schools is made up of 52 officers and four supervisors, Storey said. Middle and high schools have dedicated officers, and elementary schools are covered by middle school officers.

The officers patrol the schools for potential danger and respond to calls from faculty, Storey said.

“Most of (the calls) are anything a student does that disrupts class, whether it be fighting or drugs or if they try to skip a class,” Storey said.

Storey said three officers are assigned to work the evening shift from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and respond to alarms in schools or problems on campus after school ends.

Every officer will have a police car in the next month. The department had 16 fully-equipped police vehicles, but this year, another 37 were ordered and are expected to arrive by the end of the month.

“If you weren’t looking, you’d think it was a Cobb County police car,” Adams said.

At its May meeting, the board approved purchasing the marked police vehicles for $1.1 million using special purpose local option sales tax funds.

Safety in

Marietta Schools

The Marietta Police Department dedicates three officers to schools in the Marietta School District,

said Officer David Baldwin, police spokesman.

There are two officers who patrol Marietta High School full time, and there is one officer at Marietta Middle School, Baldwin said.

“They work hand in hand with the school administrators to find out if there’s any problem with anything and respond to it,” Baldwin said.

Marietta High School has over 100 security cameras police have access to at all times, Baldwin said.

“Every camera is recorded. So if an incident occurs, it’s there on the record,” Baldwin said.

Dayton Hibbs, Marietta’s associate superintendent, said every school has security cameras installed throughout the hallways.

Marietta High School was particularly designed to be safe. The building was designed to be “flat,” Baldwin said, with no corners for anyone to hide in.

“Marietta High School is designed with flat hallways so you can’t hide behind lockers. It was designed like that after the shooting at Columbine,” Baldwin said.

Each school also has panic buttons faculty members can use to alert police to an emergency at a school, Hibbs said.

Comments
(5)
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PeeWeesBrother
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August 06, 2014
Why is the corrupt and predatory Anti-Defamation League allowed to place their hideous agitprop signs in a Cobb County Middle School?

Whose bright idea was that?????!!!!!
Mark12112
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August 06, 2014
It's a very ugly poster. It's better to promote a positive message of friendship rather than this.

Especially in a youth environment like Elementary/middle school, it should be more encouraging of positive behaviors. This does little but make people see an oppressive ideology where you're not free to question things.

They're going about it in the wrong way.
Safe Schools
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August 06, 2014
I totally agree that the cameras and doorbells are an added deterrent for foul play and do help to make our students and schools safer. However, when the county added those items, they neglected to add the personnel to handle them. Our school offices are overwhelmed with tending to the HUGE task of making certain that our students are safe. This is a HUGE amount of time added to each day's work - along with the tasks that need to be accomplished each day in the front office. It may sound trivial - but unless you have spent a good amount of time in the front office of your local school, you do not know how much they need to do each day.
anonymous
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August 10, 2014
True, but it's working at our elementary school and as a parent I'm glad strangers cannot enter without being checked out first.
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