This article originally appeared in The Press-Enterprise and was written by Alex Groves. To view the entire original article, click here.
CALIFORNIA – When a Victorville man was shot and killed not far from a football game at Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley Friday, Sept. 16, school administrators quickly took action, having students shelter in place as law enforcement made sure it was safe for those students to leave.
School district administrators hope they won’t have to deal with possible dangers in a given school year, but must be prepared for them nonetheless. It’s something they’re getting pretty sophisticated at, too.
From adopting new technologies as they’ve become available to standardizing emergency procedures, districts are constantly finding ways to make their schools even safer than they already are.
The rise of the Emergency Operation Center
Multiple districts in the Inland Area have what are called Emergency Operation Centers, centralized locations for school districts to assess and respond to emergencies.
The Corona-Norco Unified School District recently completed its own center about six months ago, according to Associate Superintendent Michael Cobarrubias.
He said the center comes complete with radios to communicate with the district’s various school sites during drills as well as actual emergencies
In addition to the radios, a dispatch center is ready for up to five dispatchers to work. In an emergency, each dispatcher would have about 10 school sites that they would be responsible for communicating with, according to Cobarrubias.
Val Verde Unified School District has had a dedicated emergency operation center for about four years.
Located in the main district office, it comes equipped with televisions as well as a projector that allows administrators to look at video from any of their school sites.
That center also has radios to relate information.
Daniel Whitfield, director of Risk Management for Val Verde Unified School District, said that many Inland schools have their own version of an emergency operation center, though not every school has a dedicated space.
Val Verde Unified School District and Corona-Norco Unified School District both use the Raptor ID system.
People entering schools in those districts must check in by presenting their IDs at a desk at the school’s preferred entry point.
The system not only keeps track of who’s coming in and out of the school, but runs the IDs through a sex offender registry list.
Some schools at Val Verde, such as the newly built Orange Vista High, have locking systems on the doors that can be activated through key fobs. The technology keeps classrooms and offices secure by limiting access to who can get into them.