Denver schools ramp up security as fall semester kicks off
With kids back in classrooms, school districts in metro Denver are taking steps this fall to better keep students and staff safe.
What's happening: Officials at Denver Public Schools have equipped every exterior door across the district's 200-plus schools with new sensors, district spokesperson Scott Pribble tells Axios Denver.
- The sensors trigger alarms to the school office, where staff have immediate access to cameras and can call police with a panic button.
- Officials are also in the process of replacing cameras across all district schools.
Context: DPS phased out school resource officers in fall 2021 as a means to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline — the link between punishments and the criminal justice system that disproportionately impacts students of color.
- The district now utilizes 77 onsite "campus safety officers," or staff armed with tasers, to help with school security, Pribble says.
- DPS also works with 22 armed officers, who are stationed in patrol vehicles in their assigned part of the city and respond to schools when dispatched.
Zoom out: Other public schools in metro Denver have also ramped up security measures in recent months.
- The Cherry Creek School District has installed new technology that lets teachers in every classroom lock their doors with a single button, and is also working to improve its radio system and communication between personnel during lockdown events.
- All classrooms are equipped with "RedBags" that contain first aid supplies marked with a QR code that activates a secure communication system via cellphone during a security lockdown.
The big picture: Public schools across the country have been scrambling to improve security for the new academic year in the wake of Uvalde.
- Similarly to Colorado, a growing number of districts are investing in panic buttons, security cameras, metal detectors and other tools and strategies to prevent another tragedy.
- "The inquiries have increased greatly since the last shooting, just based off what our product is and does," Peter Facchini, co-founder and CEO of ProtectED Rooms — which produces mobile bullet-proof shelving systems — told Denver7.
The bottom line: Kids are returning to the classroom this semester fearing for their lives.
- "I'm nervous to go back … because you go to school never knowing what'll happen that day or even if you'll make it home," Kenzie Abbott, a junior at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, told 9News.
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