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Multiple layers of security keep children safe at DPS schools

The chief of DPS' Department of Safety and Security says that, after Wednesday's shooting, he can't help but think his job is more important than ever.

As he watched in horror the events unfolding in Wednesday's mass shooting at a Florida high school, Mike Eaton couldn't help but think his job is more important now than ever.

"I'm a father. I had two kids at the Arapahoe High School shooting and it absolutely breaks my heart, but it also energizes me to come and do this work every day," Eaton said.

He's the Chief of the Department of Safety and Security within the Denver Public School District. He wanted to share how he and his staff of 135 full-time employees are working around the clock to keep each campus safe around the city.

"Schools are safe places for kids and it's important that we, that parents feel confident in sending their kids to school every day," Eaton said.

Deep within a nondescript industrial building near the Northfield shopping districts sits a place that Eaton says no other district has in Colorado.

"In this dispatch center, we take over 20,000 calls for service each year," Eaton said.

He has a dispatch center built just like any other 911 call center that can be found in a police department.

"This is kind of our central hub for safety operations within the district," Eaton said.

Thanks to money generated by a bond issue, the district constructed a place where dispatchers can monitor thousands of cameras around the school while working with a new centralized system that can remotely shut down any school immediately.

"Where it used to take minutes are seconds in locking down a school," Eaton said.

Dispatchers can also send armed roving patrols to deal with any emergency as well maintain communications with the Denver Police Department.

"They train with us. They know our schools," Eaton said.

At the shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Broward County Sheriff's Department says an armed resource officer was on campus during the shooting but did not have the opportunity to engage the shooter. Eaton says that's why a multi-layered approach to safety is important.

"Armed resources can be a benefit," Eaton said. "However, as you saw yesterday, they may not be the full prevention."

Eaton said students just finished doing lockdown drills for the spring semester. He says that type of training for students and staff can save lives.

"We could not only observe, but also provide school leaders with immediate feedback on what they did well and what we do need to improve upon," Eaton said.

He believes the right training and preparation can minimize the risk of an active shooter as much as possible.

"We don't live in a risk-free environment and we understand that," Eaton said. "But, we also don't live in a state of fear or panic."