DENVER - When most of Denver Public Schools returns to class next week, students and parents will see new security measures installed over the summer. What they will not see is a new emergency duress button.
"We have to be able to lock down our schools and get our kids down, out, and out of sight within seconds," Michael Eaton, DPS Chief of Safety and Security, said.
At every building in the district, a duress button was placed in secret locations around the school. When pressed, it will automatically launch the lockdown protocol within the building and send a call for help to district security and Denver Police.
"Duress button is hit, it will lock the card reader so that no one can enter the building except law enforcement and safety and security personnel," Eaton said. "It will play an audible announcement over the PA system of the building to initiate lock down procedures."
Eaton says the security cameras will be automatically initiated sending a direct feed to the central safety and security center.
"We can basically have real time information and we can see exactly what's going on at the school," Eaton said.
Sara Gips is principal at McGlone Elementary in the Montbello area. Gips says this system provides invaluable piece of mind for her and her staff.
"It's quicker," Gips said. "It's much more efficient because what if you have to call the school and then radio me and then I had to make the announcement. This can save really, really valuable seconds."
The district also installed enhanced HD security cameras around the district and launched a new standardized identification badge system which doubles as they key card for a new automated key entry system at every school. That will allow the district to track who is entering each building.
"We don't want to be manually locking and unlocking doors anymore," Eaton said. "We want to be able to do it in the access system."
The district also created a streamlined emergency manual eliminating the previous 190-page version.
"I love the simplicity of the new guide," Gips said.
The security upgrades cost the district nearly $6 million. That money was generated when voters approved a 2012 bond issue that funded major renovations all across the city.
"It feels really good to have a safe and secure building," Gips said.
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