District Safety Committee spends over $140,000 on school security upgrades



Security Upgrades
The school has recently had numbers installed over all exterior doors to the building. In case of an emergency, the numbers would help tell emergency responders what door to enter. Photo by Hailey Stolze

The Bellevue Public Schools District Safety Committee recently decided to install a buzz-in system in all 21 school buildings, including a camera and microphone purchased from Prime Communications. The system allows the person watching the camera to see and communicate with anyone wanting inside the building.

The committee meets once per month, working on improving the safety of Bellevue Public Schools from outside in. Comprised of teachers, secretaries, police officers, Offutt Air Force Base representatives, parents of students and more, the committee started with implementing protocols to prepare faculty members and students for possible intruders.

At a cost of $142,078, Bellevue Public Schools Superintendent and committee chair Jeff Rippe recommended the security upgrades to the school board. Rippe said “the 2013-14 budget had money identified for safety issues.”

The system will ensure all buildings can be locked while school is in session, which Rippe is confident will increase each school’s safety.

“Locking the fronts doors should provide a more secure environment for our schools and will provide the schools a better understanding of who is in the building,” Rippe said.

Dean and committee member Anna Thoma acknowledges that while improving the school’s security system won’t keep perpetrators out, it does “slow down time.” Having a face on camera if someone gets in will also help track down the perpetrator.

“It is a hot topic around the country now, making sure that we’re always on top of what we need to do to better our schools and make them safer,” Thoma said.

Students feeling safer is another benefit. Sophomore Kelsey Bigner said an upgraded security system will provide her with security.

“You would see anybody coming in, like a threat, anybody with a gun,” Bigner said. “You would just know before it happens because you can see it on the camera.”

Another benefit Bigner sees is knowing where students are at all times.

Although they haven’t identified who specifically, secretaries at the front desk of each school will monitor the camera feed.

Secretary Doris McCann recorded that at one point the office kept track of how many people were coming through the school, and counted over 300. She admits that letting every person in individually will be time consuming.

“We’re going to do our best but I don’t know how it’s going to work with so many people coming through,” McCann said. “I do see the importance of the security and all. We do want to keep our faculty and students safe, so we’re willing to do whatever it takes here in the office.”

While the system may increase the school’s safety, some are unsure how the buzz in system will work for open campus lunch.

“I think more people will end up being later to their reading, SSR,” junior AJ Aduloju said. “It will definitely be annoying. I won’t appreciate it at all.”

McCann is concerned that, because it’s a time where so many students will need to be let in at once, open campus lunch could no longer be a privilege.

“I’m wondering if they might have to take that away because that’s one of the big volume times where we had the people coming through,” McCann said.

However, Rippe said it will just take people time to get used to buzzing in.

Freshman Dustin Carlson recognizes the advantages of improving the school’s safety, yet thinks it’s unnecessary.

“I think what we have now is good enough,” Carlson said. “We don’t need it.”

The system will be installed over summer vacation to invoke security changes by the start of next school year.

Hailey Stolze