A South Dakota school district has ramped up its security measures. It’s part of an effort to make public school students and employees safer in the wake of recent school violence.
The use of cameras, buzzers and intercoms is the new normal in Belle Fourche schools. Administrators say the enhanced technology helps them control who can and cannot enter the school buildings.
Visitors must now use an intercom system outside each school entrance to identify themselves to staff before they are buzzed in. The district also hired a school resource officer to patrol the schools.
Middle school principal Kevin Smidt says although the school’s doors were locked under the old system, visitors would still funnel trough the front office.
“There was no identification process, they just walked in on us,” said Smidt.” So somebody, if they intended on violence would be on top of us without us being able to stop them.”
“The schools have implemented a buzzer system in which the secretaries will look at the person and talk to the person before they are allowed to come into the school,” added Katie Allart, the school resource officer. “If they feel threatened at all they know how to respond to that person so there’s several barriers to the school before people can come in.”
Principal Smidt says it may take a little extra time for a visitor to get inside a school because of the new system. So patience is key.
The district’s goal to is provide all the schools with the buzzer system or some form of security upgrade if they don’t already have it in place.
Belle Fourche is one of the first school districts in West River to add upgrades.