19 years after Columbine, local schools talk security upgrades

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - It was 19 years ago, April 20, 1999, that the mass school shooting happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

Two students took the lives of 13 classmates and staff before killing themselves.

That day was the catalyst for school safety changes nationwide, including Indiana’s schools.

“One of the biggest things with Columbine was that police officers at that time were trained to get there and set up a perimeter and then wait for the SWAT team to arrive, and then obviously that took over a couple of hours.” said Doug Scheffel, School Security Coordinator for the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township. “We’re being trained now that the first officer on the scene, whether you’re by yourself or have anybody else, you go in and you find the threat and you try to eliminate it.”

Since Columbine, events like the shooting at Sandy Hook, where 27 people were killed, and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, where 17 people were killed, have security officials constantly reviewing their procedures.

IN most schools, building access is now restricted, cameras are in place, and safety officials are connected to this technology in real time. If there’s a threat, they know immediately.

“About a month or so ago, we had a threat and it came through social media to us, and within 20 minutes we had located that offender,” said Scheffel.

At the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township, it’s much the same.

These districts also rely on students and staff to be their eyes on the ground.

“I’ll give kudos to our students, when they see something they do say something, and I think that’s one of the most critical parts of school safety,” said Brian Clouse, Security Coordinator at MSD Washington Township.

These districts connect their technology with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department as well.

“If somebody wants to get into a place, are they going to get in?” said Clouse. “Could be. You’ve got to do everything you can to guard against that.”

Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Ind., has been called the safest school in America.

Hardened doors, video monitors and teachers with key fobs that alert 911 are some tools they use.

But it costs around $300,000 to outfit a school.

The Indiana Sheriff’s Association is working with state lawmakers to allocate money and bring this technology to more schools.

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