This article originally appeared in the The Lawton Constitution and was written by a staff reporter. To view the original article, click here.
Beginning Friday, the first day of school, visitors, volunteers and vendors entering any school in the Lawton school district will be required to scan in using a government-issued identification card.
In the front office at each school, a Raptor Visitor Management System scanner will be in place and visitors can scan a driver’s license, a Department of Defense card, a passport card or a state-issued identification card, according to David Hornbeck, the school district’s police chief.
When the card is scanned in, the information is checked against the national database of registered sex offenders and any district- or school-initiated custom list. Once cleared by the Raptor system, a visitor’s badge is printed.
“The No. 1 priority in the district, and especially my job as the chief of police, is to ensure the students are safe at all locations. It enhances my ability to do that,” Hornbeck said. “But I don’t want a misconception that this is a fail-safe system. It is a tool and a deterrent. It will keep people out who don’t belong in the school. Anyone who has a legal right to be in the school, we want to make sure they have access to that building.”
Trying out the system and providing data
Walking up to the front door of Central Middle School, a visitor pushes the button near the front door to notify the office that she wanted to enter. Once the office determined who it was, the door unlocked and she entered the office to check in. Using a passport card, the visitor slid the card into the small Raptor scanner. About 15 to 20 seconds later, Raptor cleared the scanned information and an office staff member input who the visitor was there to see, a paper badge popped out of the label machine. The process itself took much less than 45 seconds.
On the badge, the visitor’s name, where she intended to go and “Central Middle School” was printed under the photo. “Visitor” along with the date and time of the scan was printed beside the photo.
But what if you don’t have an ID card?
“The system is set up so we can manually enter name and date of birth on any individual who comes in the school who does not have an ID. It will still do the sex offender registry check,” Hornbeck said, adding “in this day and age most people have some form of ID.
“Just about everywhere you go, they are requesting IDs.”
If the Raptor system does find a potential threat, the system sends an instant alert to designated staff via email and text, he said.
A minimal amount of data is retained by the school.
“Retention of information that is extracted from the driver’s license or ID card provided by the visitor into the schools is limited to name, date of birth and photo. That is the only information we extract from that ID and retain in our system,” he said.
Being proactive with Raptor
The district purchased Raptor to improve safety measures.
“We have not had an issue in the past. Of course, we had no way to track it in the past. We have done some studies. There are schools in the state of Oklahoma that are using this system and other systems, and we feel like it was another tool we could use and keep our students safe,” he said.