SHELBY COUNTY (WISH) – It’s the first school in the nation to get what’s being called a revolutionary security system, and it’s right here in Indiana.
The Indiana Sheriffs’ Association picked Southwestern High School in rural Shelby County, to show just what the safest school could look like.
They’re calling it a “Safe School Flagship,” and they hope it will serve as a best practice model for other schools across the nation, and in Indiana.
“Anytime you have information, you can make better decisions. This gives us the information we need to make critical decisions, as well as them [the educators],” said Deputy Mike Kersey with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.
Kersey was instrumental in this venture. He says he has a passion for school safety, and found the company, Net Talon, based out of Virginia, who had the technology he was looking for.
He and the Indiana Sheriff’s Association decided Southwestern Consolidated School District – would be the place to start in Indiana.
“We have law enforcement and education coming together. Now’s the time,” said Southwestern Consolidated School District Superintendent Dr. Paula Maurer. “We need to do this, for the next generation. For kids today.”
“It’s incredibly important to every superintendent to keep their students safe. It used to be that our main job was to educate students. While it is one of our main jobs, unfortunately, it’s now become critically important for us to be mindful of their safety,” Maurer added.
Teachers at Southwestern now have a key fob they can press to alert the entire school and the sheriff’s department that an emergency situation is happening inside the school.
Offiicals say in a typical situation, it may take precious minutes for someone to get to a safe spot and be able to dial 911.
They say this technology allows the school to literally be connected to the Shelby County dispatch center, who can instantly see what’s going on inside the school once the system is activated.
They can even engage the intruder remotely.
“We know immediately what’s going on. We can identify those people, what they might be carrying, what they’re doing. We can advise our cars, that are on the way down there, all the information we have,” said Shelby County Sheriff Mike Bowlby.
Teachers and students are also trained how to respond. Even the doors in the school are designed to stop an intruder: called ‘hardened doors.’
The technology at the school is mainly funded by Net Talon.
Indiana officials say this system in Shelby County is just the beginning.
The Indiana Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Stephen Luce says they have long-term goals for this system.
“What we would like to see is a flagship in each emergency management district. That way, by establishing these 11 sites, on top of what we have here, that would give the communities in the state, something to look at, to see how the system works. They don’t have to drive to one location all the time,” said Luce. “This is something that’s not going to happen overnight. We are working with legislators, state officials, because, we’re going to have to create legislation. Funding is always an issue. We have to look at all those avenues we can look at to make those possible.”
All designed to give law enforcement and educators – a way to communicate – and stop the threat – as fast as possible.
“Our kids are our most precious commodity. They’re priceless to us,” said Maurer.