Ohio School District Upgrades Emergency Communication System

Now school officials can immediately converse with police in the event of an active killer situation.

A security system that includes two-way dispatch communication with police installed by Liberty Local Schools will enable officers to respond more quickly to a crisis on campus, Liberty Police Chief Richard Tisone says.

The campus security solution also has 60 cameras installed throughout E.J. Blott Elementary School, W.S. Guy Middle School and Liberty High School. The district does not employ a school resource officer, reports vindy.com.

The district has spent $30,000 on the cameras and $8,250, including $7,000 from an Ohio Attorney General’s Office grant, on radios.

RELATED: 2-Way Radios Are Valuable Tools for K-12 Schools

Liberty Local Schools Superintendent Stan Watson can view all the live camera feeds from a 42-inch screen in his office, according to the article. School administrators and Liberty police officers also can view the feeds from computers or smartphones.

Several school administrators carry portable radios, which allow them to communicate with Liberty police. Effectively, this system transforms the schools into “mini-dispatch centers,” Tisone said.

Watson told vindy.com a key element of the security system is ease of use. The Ohio Department of Education requires districts to submit detailed security plans, but Watson noted that leafing through a 50-page response plan would prove difficult under the time pressure of an emergency.

To streamline response times, Liberty staff members use a color-coded map of the campus to dispatch officers to a specific location.

“From a tactical standpoint, I can’t tell you the amount of stress that would relieve for an officer,” Tisone said. “You’re basically hunting the person that is inside the school.”

The Columbine High School massacre of 1999 provoked a change in the way police respond to an active shooter, Tisone said.

Previously, law enforcement favored a more cautious “contain-and-wait” approach, which involved forming a perimeter and waiting for a more-specialized police unit to arrive. Now, active-shooter training teaches officers that the first cops on the scene should take action immediately to stop the shooter.

“The faster you respond to the threat, that individual is either going to be shot, or commit suicide, or it’s going to end,” Tisone said.

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