Local Schools Up the Ante for Safety

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After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December, and a scare on Tuesday at an Atlanta elementary school, Dothan City Schools Superintendent Tim Wilder wanted parents to have peace of mind when their children leave for school.

“You can't just walk in our schools. Our elementary schools and middle schools, you have to ring a bell. They have to see you, show identification,” he said.

Some schools added an extra set of eyes to avoid blind spots.

“We’ve added extra cameras. Also, we've added extra staff, like a receptionist,” said Jim Matheny, a school resource officer at Northview High School.

Elementary and middle schools are locked down during school hours. High schools keep all but one door locked—that will give police officers an edge on trespassers.

“You never know, around the corner, here comes one of the School Resource Officers,” said Matheny.

Authorities always plan for the unexpected and say they are confident in their school security.

“We’re doing everything we know to do to make it safe for our children. Obviously, our number one concerns are safety above everything else. We want them to learn, but number one safety, people entrust us to do that,” explained Wilder.

“There’s no perfect plan that goes according to when the scenario hits. All we can do is put our best practices involved at the time,” said Matheny

Regardless of what may happen, there is always a plan.

“If we ever reported somebody walking on a school campus with a rifle, then we're going to challenge him or we're going to kill him,” said Sheriff Andy Hughes of the Houston County Sheriff’s Office.
Also, parents could see signs at some schools asking for patience. Wilder said it is because, new this year, visitors will be asked for identification, the reason for the visit, and other possible questions. On Monday, Dothan’s City School Board will meet with principals about implementing a school safety app. Honeysuckle Middle School is already using it.

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