School Security 15 Years After Columbine - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

School Security 15 Years After Columbine

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It seems as like it was only yesterday when two students went on a mass killing spree at Columbine High School killing twelve students, one teacher and wounding twenty-one others. Substitute teacher Larry Griffin said, "It was devastating. Columbine was horrible."

It happened on April 20, 1999. The 15 year anniversary of the massacre was only two weeks ago. The Security Coordinator for Muscogee County Schools Scott Thomann said, "We realize that the way we did things prior to 1999 couldn't be done 1999 and forward."

According to the CDC's School Associated Violent Death study, homicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 5-18. Most school-associated violent deaths occur during transition times such as immediately before and after the school day and during lunch. Since Columbine, school security has become a top issue of concern, but are our children safe in Muscogee County? District officials say yes.

The Superintendent of Muscogee County Schools David Lewis said, "We feel good about the plans that we have in place. I've reviewed our plans and each school has a site specific plan."

Thomann said, "Yes, their as safe in Columbus, Georgia as anywhere in America.".

There are about 32,000 students in the school district. Special security policies are in place to protect the lives of all of the students starting with who gets into the schools.

AT Northside High School, first you have to press a button and then you have to wait for them to see you on the school security camera and then they will buzz you inside the door.

Thomann said, "It's important when our visitors come on to our campus that they go directly to the office where their allowed into the school to go in and signed in properly."

The school system also uses cameras to deter any type of bad behavior.

Thomann said that, "We do use surveillance..a lot of electronic surveillance and other electronic measures on our campus."

Van Montesclaros ia the Technology Academy Manager for the district. He said, "The security cameras aren't just for show. They're recorded and they're used. I've been in situations before where we've had to use it, not for any violent crimes, but for thefts we've had to use them."

Superintendent David Lewis said many of those security measures were made possible thanks to SPLOST. Lewis said, "The fact that you have to buzz in every school that's now in place now. The panic alarms that are in every one of our schools with the exception of two and those will be completed by the end of this month. We have cameras in our schools and again that's a matter of the SPLOST. "

Besides entrance procedures and surveillance cameras, Columbus police officers and Muscogee County deputies act as school resource officers.
They're armed and ready if needed. We use them on a daily basis in our schools. And we're constantly moving those assets to where we think we may have heard or have activity.

Griffin said he has noticed the strong presence of police on school campuses. He said, "Police will be there enforce. Actually, what comes to mind is classrooms. If anything happens in the classroom, all we have to do is call and police will come to escort the students out and make sure they get to the principal and he doesn't play."

Parents say the tight security at the schools makes them feel at ease. Montesclaros said, "Obviously, I leave him here everyday. I feel comfortable with that. I don't know anywhere else I would want them."

Melinda Biggers' granddaughter goes to Columbus High School and she is thankful for the security. She said, "You know when you're going in you have to show your identification. And I love that and you know the security is just great. They want to make sure you're the right person picking up the right child."

Her granddaughter Tatyana Banks feels safe going to classes in Muscogee County. She said, "I think my school is safe. Here at Columbus High School we're all a family."

Some students still think more could be done to prevent a possible tragedy. Student Wil Murtey said, "I think having more people around to help watch would be better because I know we have people during lunch but around the halls its just cameras which don't prevent anything."

Banks said, "Probably have more policeman come into the school more often."

Lewis says the district does want to add more security measures once the budget allows it. He said, "We would like to put a lavaliere device that teachers can put around their necks and have in their classrooms that we'd certainly like to purchase. And we'd also like to have those in the event that some intruder might come into a specific classroom. There's also the need for additional cameras. But again I want to make everyone aware that its difficult to ensure the safety in a public place."

Deidre Johnson

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Deidre Johnson co-anchors News 3 This Morning and reports for News 3 Midday. More>>

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