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After Sandy Hook: Educators To Take Up Increasing Security in Pr. George's Schools

Installing panic buttons, electronic doors, and increasing armed police officers are on Thursday's agenda for the county's education board.

The Security Services department for the county's public schools will propose a beefed up security plan to the Prince George's County Board of Education Thursday that recommends panic buttons in every public school and more armed police on campuses. 

The department's proposal includes having two cameras and an electronic entry door controlled by an access buzzer at all public schools.

Director of Security Services Michael Blow and Deputy Director Rex Barrett have teamed up with security staff to develop the recommendations, which will increase school security in a post-Sandy Hook world, according to Barrett.

"It was such a catastrophic event," Barrett said of the mass shooting at the Newtown, CT elementary school. "It's kind of changed your mindset of what security looks like from here moving forward." 

The county's school security team had already been making a lot of assessments over the past year and a half trying to determine the most effective ways to protect schools, according to Barrett.  

The mass shooting in an Aurora, CO movie theater in the summer of 2012 and the central Virginia earthquake that shook Maryland in 2011 drove the team on, according to Barrett. But Sandy Hook pushed up the timeline, he said. 

The new security proposal details how cameras in schools, coupled with a new data analysis system, could alert officials should a visitor with numerous felony convictions show up at a school's door.

Many items on Security Service's proposal, titled "long-term safety recommendations" are not so long-term anymore, according to Barrett. Initially, the proposal had a three-year phase in, but that's changed since Sandy Hook, he said.

The Service hopes to have electronic entry doors and panic buttons up and running by the beginning of next school year, and some additional recommendations operational by the end of 2013, like an analysis management system capable of detecting school visitors' criminal backgrounds.

But the overall timeline depends on which options the Board approves and on how fast vendors can complete their work, according to Barrett.

Security Services is still discussing proposals that are not on the agenda yet for the board's System Oversight meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. in the Sasser Administration Building on 14201 School Lane in Upper Marlboro.

Security is also ironing out the current recommendations, according to Barrett. Briant Coleman, spokesman for Prince George's County Public Schools, said what is going before the Board is only a proposal and that the Board is going to have the final decision.

Barrett confirmed that the approximate cost for the plan is slightly above $5.6 million. It does not take into account costs associated with an increased police presence in the schools which, if approved, will be explored with the Prince George's Police Department and other municipalities with police forces, according to Barrett.

Take a look at what the proposed increased police presence would look like along with further details on the safety features in Security Services proposal. Then, tell us: What do you think about the proposal? Will it make Prince George's County Public Schools safer?

Paige February 07, 2013 at 01:32 AM
I feel that boosting security would be a good idea. However, instead of thinning our police force, hire Veterans to work in our schools as security.
Dawn Mooney February 07, 2013 at 03:20 AM
What about the fact that Sandy Hook had some of these security measures already in place, but in the face of a maniac with a bunch of guns, they could still be blown through? My mind is racing with ideas of what our county could do with 5.6 million dollars that would be immediately useful and purposeful.
Peggy Brow February 07, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Was a picture from a public school not fitting or is DeMatha now part of PGCPS?
Earnest Hawkins Jr February 09, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Mike Blow, Rex Barrett and Mr Harris have over 60 yrs of lawenforcement between them and are experts in that field. Forget about all of the different scenarios out there and back their initiatives to save lives. Money should be no object when the lives of children are the issue. Hawk. Pg County Police Retired, Security Assistant Northwestern HS.
DFX February 11, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Do not neglect smartphone apps like CrimePush.

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