Updated: 03/31/2013 10:35 PM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough
At schools around the country, keeping kids and teachers safe is priority number one. Whether it's a shooter or a sex offender, the goal is to keep threats out of the building. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS got a sneak peek at a Stillwater campus that is keeping a close eye on who gets in, who doesn't and why.
The first line of defense at Oak-Land Junior High in Stillwater starts the moment you set foot on campus. Visitors can only go so far before handing over a driver's license. At a check-in point, it gets scanned into a computer-based security system by staff. Within seconds, a person is screened and an electronic log is recorded.
Two background checks are run: one against a nationwide sex offender database, while the other searches for custody issues, protection from abuse orders and a list of who can pick up kids from school. In other words, any possible threat against a child. Although Oak-Land Junior High hasn't had a hit this year, other campuses have.
Jim Vesterman runs Raptor Technologies, a similar system used in a dozen other Minnesota districts. "With 10,000 registered sex offenders flagged by our system and 120,000 custody alerts, these are everyday needs of the school," he says.
Dennis Bloom heads up security for Stillwater schools. He believes the visitor management system they're testing here called School Check-In, is another important deterrent. "The people that are in your buildings you have to know where they are and who they are," Bloom says.
If danger is detected, a school-wide alert happens with a text message or email from school leaders. The threat is stopped at the door, access denied and the person is escorted to the office and away from the children, until a school liaison officer arrives.
Although these two systems don't stop a shooter or bullets, they're not meant to.
"It buys schools time," says Vesterman.
It also puts parents, kids and employees more at ease. "They're entrusting their kids to us. We want them safe in our buildings and if this is one way that helps than this is what we want to do," says Bloom.
Once you're cleared you get a temporary ID badge and must wear it at all times while in the school.
Security doesn't stop there. Oak-Land has surveillance cameras, classroom doors are locked from the inside and emergency drills are routinely held.
School check-ins and Raptor Technologies cost about $1,500 for startup plus an annual fee.