Belleville Public Schools marked a second week with 911 observances after opening after Labor Day to improved security measures.
After investing more than $2 million to improve school security, Belleville schools opened with security improvements Sept. 5, finishing “a multifaceted approach to school security, from armed safety officers to geographically, or geo-tracking, radio frequency identification technology, which uses radio waves to track objects, and more,” according to a press release issued in August.
“Immediately following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., the district hired a director of school security (former mayor and police captain Bill Escott), and within five weeks had armed retired law enforcement officers placed in each of its nine school buildings," the press release continued.
The district installed a state-of-the-art network security and surveillance system with almost 1,000 cameras all over the district that can track people and also has new electronic access control at all entry points throughout the buildings, states the release.
According to the press release, “the geo-tracking technology is to be installed throughout the school's facilities including their buses to work in correlation with the newly engineered network infrastructure."
An armed security office now guards the front door of each Belleville public school, as the school board works with police and council officials to improve safety in the wake of the Newtown school shootings last fall.
A special security company completed a comprehensive audit of all the schools earlier this year and recommended improvements to security measures, including video cameras, phone systems, and door locks, school officials said. This change came just weeks after the school board hired former mayor and police captain Bill Escott as school security director.
Escott said he personally supervised the hiring of the security officers, who included retired sheriffs, state trooper and police officers.
Each is certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, have had fingerprint background checks, and have all gun-carry certifications required by federal and state laws, Escott said. All visitors must now have an appointment made with the school, and show photo identification to the part-time security officers, officials said.
Clarity Technologies Group, LLC of Mine Hill is engineering and installing the new technology, officials said.
Escott also led a two-hour in-service presentation with Belleville Police Chief Joseph Rotonda and other police leaders on Jan. 30 to instruct teachers on how to deal with violence in schools. A teacher who asked that her name
All the board members have said they support the changes.