Columbia school leaders address school safety protocols

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Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 8:15 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2023 at 8:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - School safety is moving back to the forefront following the deadly school shooting out of Nashville, Tennessee.

WIS checked in with schools in the area to see if they were looking back at their safety procedures following the Nashville tragedy.

Ben Lippin school leaders say they take the safety of their staff and students very seriously and start with reviewing their safety protocols every year.

Officials say the campus is patrolled by security.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department also drives through the campus periodically which gives the school extra security.

The school’s doors stay secured with magnetic door locks.

School officials say they’re looking to add additional software and hardware to allow first responders to reach the school as quickly as possible.

“Every second counts,” said Greg Turchetta, a spokesperson with the Richland School District Two.

Greg Turchetta with the Richland School District Two says school leaders presented a new system called the ‘Crisis Alert System’ that will cut down on the time it takes for law enforcement to respond to emergencies.

Turchetta says, “So, it’s obviously a badge it has a button. I’d wear it on the back side of my badge that’s already here, so it’s very ambiguous.”

With a click or two of a button depending on the situation staff members can alert law enforcement of a crisis and even put the school on lockdown.

“If a gunman or gun person is loose in a school, it’s grim but you start thinking of how many people could be dead. If this thing locks those doors and access to different hallways, you’re saving lives every second you can do that and every school shooting has shown all the way back to Uvalde all the way back to Columbine, the time that you’re losing in a school is a problem,” he said.

Richland School District One Superintendent Craig Witherspoon says after any school shooting, he’ll go back over safety protocols already in place with his administration.

“We have here in the district our standard response protocols that we implement. We have our resource officers in every building,” said Dr. Craig Witherspoon.

Dr.Witherspoon says he’ll look back at protocols to see if there’s anything the district can do to heighten those safety procedures already in place.

He also says the district is looking to implement a similar system like the ‘Crisis Alert’ clickers at the schools within district one.

Richland Two has installed the ‘Crisis Alert System’ at all schools in the district.

The district will be testing the system on Friday, April 7, at 1:30 p.m. at Long Leaf Middle School.

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