New security measures enacted

Tessa Voytovich, Reporter

Earlier this year, on Feb. 14, schools all over the United States received a devastating reality check. That was the day of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Safety in schools had increasingly become an issue, but for many, that shooting was what really prompted change.

“I would say since the event happened in Florida last February, every school has started taking an even closer look at school safety measures and school security,” Principal Dr. Brian Waterman said. “We certainly are doing that as well.”

Some changes that LT implemented at the beginning of this school year are the Bluepoint Security System and the full-time presence of a resource officer at NC. As a reminder, the Bluepoint system provides a direct notification to police when activated; the resource officer is another safety reinforcement.

“I see that the steps that we have taken, like having the new resource officer here, are sort of an expectation,” Associate Principal Kevin Brown said. “But, there’s always an ongoing conversation about what we can do to make our school safer.”

The entrance in between the main building and Vaughan building was previously very accessible, but the unlocked doors at the bell tower entrance seemed inadequate in the wake of current school safety issues.

“The world changes minute by minute and it no longer was the best and most secure way to have our main point of entry to the building,” Associate Principal Kris Costopoulos said.

Administration knows that students need to travel between the buildings during the passing periods. Physical education class, study halls and music are located in the Vaughan building. There is the tunnel available: but for some, walking outside is preferred.

Doors will now be locked for the majority of the day. During those passing periods, the security guard who is at the desk will unlock the doors so that students can get inside. At the end of the passing period, the doors will manually be locked again, Costopoulos said.

Regarding visitors coming to NC, the bell tower entrance will now work like the SC main office entrance. A camera system, along with a buzzer, will monitor who is outside the building. After pressing the buzzer, visitors will tell the security guard their names and reasons for coming to the school. This information will be confirmed and the visitor will be allowed to enter.

At the front desk, the visitor’s name will be run through a database as a background check. Specifically, the security guard will check to see if this person is a sex offender. The database, called the Raptor system, has been in place at LT for a while already, Waterman said.

“I don’t believe that we would run a parent who is just here to drop off a lunch through the system,” Brown said. “We’d only use it if they’re coming into the building for a meeting or coming into one of the offices.”

The administration speculates that tighter security will also cut down on the number of people moving in and out of the building.

“The more that you have traffic in a building, the easier it is for someone to just blend in and walk in. If we can cut down on all that traffic, it will improve all of our safety,” Costopoulos said.

Some community members have requested metal detectors, while the school still wants to avoid taking that step, Waterman said.

“We have a really easy solution to make sure that we’re physically safe. We can put metal detectors in at every door and we can post an armed guard at every single door and scan people in one at a time,” Waterman said. “Does anyone feel safer if we do that? I don’t think so.”

The administration thinks the new measures in place are a fitting solution: a balance of tighter security and a reassuring atmosphere.

“We still want that human interaction that makes us feel like the welcoming environment that we are,” Waterman said. “If we start to feel that we’re taking away from that, then that’s something we need to sit down and review.”