Huntsville City Schools increase security measures to protect students and faculty

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Thursday marks five years since the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary. The 26 lives that were taken that day continue to be remembered. The mass shooting changed the way many schools across the country handle their security including Huntsville City Schools.

"I think all school districts all across the nation looked at their procedures and looked at things that they could learn from and improve," Huntsville City Schools Spokesperson Keith Ward.

Huntsville City Schools now have intruder drills that are required several times throughout the year. Ward said teachers and staff also receive hands-on training. "We have a multi-agency drill we do during the summer that includes our staff from Huntsville City Schools along with our emergency responders and law enforcement," Ward said.

He said school buildings built after 2011 have been equipped with the latest security software. "We have a bubble and basically that means you have to be buzzed in by office staff. You get into the lobby area you have to complete a visitor certification. Then from there, you go through another set of doors to get to the hallways," Ward said.

"We also have a service called Raptor and that takes your driver's license and scans it. It then checks to see if you're on like the sex offender registry or anything. If you pass all that then you get a visitor badge," Ward said.

He said the older school buildings have similar features. "With the older schools we have retrofitted a lot of those so that all of the schools have the magnetic locks with the video security access and the Raptor system," Ward said.

He said all of the new schools have fencing that surrounds the property. The school district also relies on their security system. "We have our own security department that works all through the district.  At the high school and middle schools we have school resource officers through Huntsville Police Department," Ward said.

The newer buildings also have secondary escape doors in case of an emergency to make it easier for students to escape the building.