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Schools Districts Urged to Develop Security Plans, One Leads

Schools Districts Urged to Develop Security Plans, One Leads Way
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Alan Hamilton, TPSD Campus Officer and Center Coor., Louis Meadows
Courtesy: Northeast Miss. DJournal

A Mississippi School District is working to lead the way in developing and growing its security plan. A statewide organization is urging all districts to keep security top of mind. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

Some 7,000 students attend Tupelo Public Schools. Assistant Superintendent Andy Cantrell says there are 500 cameras at their campuses all monitored 24 hours a day by security officers at the district office. A bullet resistant film is on door windows to slow down intruders trying to force their way into a building.

"It takes about 8 to 10 minutes for someone to gain access to our building getting through the security film. The average response time of the Tupelo Police Department is about 3 to 5 minutes on a hot call," said Cantrell.

Cantrell says they also have unarmed and armed security officers. Phil Burchfield with the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents says they provide security experts to help schools districts. He wants all administrators to have a sense of urgency about having a security plan.

"You need to have the conversations with not only your own school district. You've got to have the conversation with your local authorities, your community, your parents, your kids . What if this happens. What is that going to look like?" said Burchfield.

Kenneth Wheeler, a Tupelo School Board member and security expert, says changing student culture is important.

"We have signs out front that says non-negotiables, no stealing, no weapons, no look-alike weapons out in front of every school. When kids see something strange, trust your instincts, it is strange," said Wheeler.

Tupelo's School District's "see something, say something policy" is working says the administration. Anyone can call an anonymous tip line or text to report some thing unusual.

Photo: Courtesy of Adam Robison, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.