Police Radios: Making Schools Safer?

7:08 AM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- When you hear about a manhunt or lockdown, you cringe. But when you're talking about something like that happening right outside your child's school, it's downright scary.

That's why some schools are now using police radios to keep tabs on nearby crime.

"This gives us another layer of yeah, I think we are prepared," said Bill Fitzpatrick, New London Schools Superintendent in Wisconsin.

Thanks to donations from the community, the Wisconsin school district and New London Police Department raised nearly $16,000 to outfit each of its eight schools with police radios.

It was a response to the deadly shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December.

"I think it gives us a sense of greater preparedness. When you hear of these situations in other places, you say have we done enough?" said Fitzpatrick.

Are schools in the Triad using them too?

Guilford, Alamance-Burlington, Winston-Salem-Forsyth and Davidson County schools do not use police radios. However, all of them use school resource officers and Guilford County Schools officials said that might be enough.

"Anytime there's an event going on in and around the area, those law enforcement officers communicate directly with school administrators and with district personnel if there's a need for a potential lockdown," said Greggory Slate, School Safety Administrator at Guilford County Schools. "Or if there's a need for us to take action to help protect our students."

Law enforcement officials agreed, that relationship is crucial and police radios can actually be misleading.

"What you originally hear on a scanners is not necessarily the true story of what's occurring," said Col. Randy Powers, with the Guilford County Sheriff's Office.

But Powers said more information can't hurt.

"If there was a shooting down the road, say two or three blocks, and a suspect has left on foot, carrying a gun, then yeah, that could definitely play a benefit to the schools," said Powers. "But then again, hopefully our own people would notify them to go into lockdown status."

Each school in Guilford County has its own crisis plan in place.

School officials told WFMY News 2, every year, they conduct safety assessments to find ways to improve the safety of students and staff, so police radios can't be ruled out.

Most school districts in the Triad are already using weather radios in schools.

School officials added that parents play a big role in making their kids' schools safer. That's why they need to be involved by listening to what their kids are saying. And if they hear something going on in the community, they need to make sure they're communicating with school officials and local law enforcement.

WFMY News 2

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