The request from Marietta City Schools came following an incident on Tuesday in DeKalb County where a gunman snuck into a school carrying several weapons, and on Wednesday morning, another man was arrested at a charter school in Canton with knives and BB gun.
Officer David Baldwin with Marietta Police said because of those arrests, the department’s officers are now heavily patrolling the areas around Marietta’s eight elementary and two middle schools and one high school at the start of the school day and during afternoon dismissals.
“We are taking every precaution we can and have been working hand in hand with the schools, talking to their upper management about both of those incidents,” Baldwin said.
Marietta Police provides trained officers to the city school district for its campus policing.
Marietta High School has two officers that work on site during the school day, in addition to one each at Marietta Middle and the Marietta Sixth Grade Academy.
If anything were to happen at the elementary schools, Baldwin said whoever is closer to the site — patrolling or resource officers — would respond first.
There are also panic alarms at all schools, which alerts local police to respond in case of an emergency and buzz-in systems at every elementary school.
A buzz-in system requires school visitors to press a button at the main entrance of a school in order to enter after school has started.
“Our biggest concern is the students and faculty members but to also ease the concerns of the parents, so that they know we are proactive,” Baldwin said.
Cobb Schools urge ‘vigilance’
Cobb Schools, which employs its own public safety department and 38 officers, has not done anything in addition to what’s already in place, but Public Safety Director Ron Storey does want to remind students, staff and members of the public visiting the schools that if they see anything out of the ordinary at a school, to make sure they contact police.
“We remind you to be vigilant … aware of your surroundings,” Storey said Wednesday afternoon. “If things just don’t look right, you need to be checking into it. Just don’t assume that somebody else is going to do something about it or that there’s nothing to it.”
In addition to officers at all 16 high schools and one in many of the middle school clusters, Cobb also has security cameras in all schools, buzz-in systems like in Marietta City Schools and keyless entry to outside doors.
$1.5 million spent recently on new security
The district’s deputy superintendent of operational support, Chris Ragsdale, said his staff just completed installing buzz-in systems at all 67 elementary schools and has started installing the same program at its 25 middle schools. The Cobb School Board approved the $900,000 security measure in February.
Buzz-in systems were not installed at high schools because there are more class changes during the day unlike in elementary and middle schools, Storey said.
The board also approved another security measure in late July when it OKed the purchase of 17 marked police cars at a ticket price of $530,000 for campus officers.
Storey has said this would help his officers respond more quickly to incidents on all of Cobb’s 112 school campuses.