Ridgefield schools add enhanced security screening

This segment originally appeared on KOIN 6 News To view the original article, click here.

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. (KOIN) — Visitors to schools in Ridgefield will go through an enhanced screening process that will check the national sex offender databases, among other items, before being issued a visitor’s pass.

The new screening process was put into use Monday after the staffs were trained in March.

Paula McCoy, the executive director of business services inside the Ridgefield School District, said the district — in light of recent school shootings — was evaluating its security protocols when it learned about the screening process.

“This was such a neat tool,” McCoy said, “that we could not possibly pass this up.”

The Visitor Management System from Raptor Technologies will take a visitor’s valid ID and will scan national databases “that would indicate a potential threat to students or staff,” including custody alerts, district officials said in a release. If a scan gets a “positive” response, a building administrator and security officer will meet the visitor in the school’s front office.

The technology will give the district a complete, thorough idea of who visits its halls on a daily basis, something the previous process lacked.

“When visitors would come to the district, they would sign a manual visitor log, check in at the front office (and) get a temporary badge,” McCoy said. “We found that some locations, some people were not going through the process. We weren’t getting a fair picture of everyone in our building.”

District officials said this new plan will include parents who walk their elementary students to their classroom. But if a meeting is only to take place in the school office, no badge is required.

The new system will also track how long every visitor stays in school, will be used for background checks for school volunteers and keep all the data in one spot.

Raptor Technologies said this system is in use in about 20,000 K-12 schools nationwide. For Ridgefield, it cost $4,500 to provide the technology in 4 school district sites. That price tag included the training and the equipment required to get the enhanced screening up and running.

The system, while an improvement, doesn’t fix every security shortcoming. But, according to McCoy, it’s closing more gaps.

“If someone really wants to get in the building they’ll find a way to get in the building,” McCoy said. “This is just a process for us to have a better idea of who’s coming in and out of our building.”

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