New technology keeps local students safe

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - One day after a student was killed by a shooter at his Washington school, local schools are making sure they're prepared for similar situations.

"It's everyone working together," MPSD Police Chief Ricardo Clayton says. "No one can be every place and see everything, but all of us together can see the majority of things."

School resource officers, safety officers, teachers and faculty join forces, staying vigilant to keep their students safe. The school also has some new technology to keep unwanted intruders out.

"We have cameras, in which we can monitor movement on campus, as well as we have what we call controlled access," Chief Clayton says.

That means no one is getting in the building without the approval of Gail Lynch, the school's secretary/bookkeeper.

"Basically, when people or visitors come to the door to request to come in, they press a button, and that activates a camera," Lynch says.

A speaker outside is connected to the main office.

"I can talk to them when they come to the door," Lynch says. "And I greet them by saying, 'Welcome to West Hills Elementary, how may I help you?'"

Lynch can view who she's talking to through a screen at her desk and buzz them in.

West Hills has another way to keep out unwanted visitors. Only faculty and staff can use fingerprint scanners outside to access the building.

"The parents entrust their kids to us in regards to educating them, but (also) keeping them safe," Chief Clayton says. "When we think about it, kids are our most precious resource. So safety has to be primary."

The Meridian Public School District has 6 school resource officers and 12 school safety officers.