A new safety technology program is in use at a high school in Jackson County, and it could soon be used at schools across the state
After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the recent high school shooting in Parkland Florida, one group took preventive measures in making sure Alabama schools are safe.
Skyline High School was chosen to test the safe school technology, because it's in a rural part of Jackson County. School officials told me if something were to happen on the campus, it'll take first responders longer to get out there.
"The other reality is that we talk problems to death rather than solve them. We wanted to solve something. We wanted to go in and implement it immediately," said Dr. Gary Maddux.
Dr. Gary Maddux works for the systems management and production center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, also known as SMAP. He and others have been working on the test for years.
"We've worked with the local law enforcement, the hierarchy of the school system, and the individual school to do this test bed," Dr. Maddux said.
Dr. Maddux said it only cost $5,000 to fund the project. They were able to find inexpensive safety equipment, like door locks, a metal detection wand for the principal, audible door sensors and motion activated cameras, which Jackson County investigators have access to from their cell phones.
"We have an active shooter situation, we can find out where that person is and when we get there, we can concentrate our response to that location," said Rocky Harnen.
Maddux said they're planning to implement this program in several school districts in Alabama. Plus, schools nationwide are interested.
"We're doing some other things such as looking at making a two-way glass runway. If you've got a bad guy out in the hallway, he cannot see into the classroom to see what's going on," Dr. Maddux said.
Anthony Buckner with the Jackson County School District also explained the new technology hasn't distracted Skyline students from their learning.
"We want our students to know that we've got their safety at heart," Buckner said.
WAAY 31 wasn't able to get inside of the school today, because the Jackson County School District is on fall break. We also learned there is not a full-time school resource officer at every school, so this program is a huge help.
Also, the program includes an email hotline for teachers and staff to offer other ideas to improve school safety.