Hamilton County leaders take new steps to improve school safety

Several Hamilton County leaders took part in two meetings Monday on school safety. The first was held at the Westin in downtown. (Image: WTVC)

Hamilton County is taking new steps to improve school safety.

On Monday, law enforcement, elected officials, department of education representatives, and even students heard a detailed presentation on ways to make schools more safe.

"This is the most important thing we do," Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson said.

Johnson talked about the key points in Monday's presentation, including ways to make a school physically tougher to access.

"We want to be on the cutting edge when it comes to our procedures. We want to look at our safety plans. We want to look at our building structures. We want to look at our mechanisms in which we control access," Johnson said.

Those were just a few things SSI Guardian spokesman Michael Yorio talked about.

His main message was empowering all employees.

"Collaboration is key to an effective security initiative, so law enforcement needs to communicate with schools, and with organizations, and with government," Yario said.

Yario said they've built their "best practices" model by studying past active shooter scenarios, and what could have been done better.

One was having students turn off their phones when an active shooter is in the building, so the shooter can't track you by sound.

"I think one thing that really stood out was that you need to silence your cell phone if there's a threat, and basic little things like that, that need to be ingrained into the students and teachers," McCallie student Allen Liu said.

Some students believe having more adults inside the school will help, even if they're not teachers or school resource officers.

"I definitely think that some students wouldn't like the idea of having more adults, but I think it's a great idea, because adults are just more equipped to address these situations when they arise," East Hamilton student Lauren Gossett said.

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