Security updates at Burke bring a renewed sense of safety

Britney Murillo

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The thought of a massacre within an elementary school was unimaginable only 10 years ago. However, the new procedures have been proven necessary due to the recent mass shootings our country witnesses in public places such as schools, concerts, malls, etc. Research conducted by the Washington Post in 2007 showed that half of the deadliest shootings claiming more than 12 lives occurred between 1949 and 1999 (a 50-year time period) and the other half occurred within the seven years between 1999 and 2007, this is without counting the shootings that have occurred in the past 12 years like Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and Parkland. This new need for increased security has forced students, administrators and district officials to question whether Burke has efficient procedures in place for their protection.  

“In the 80’s, we could write passes for kids to run out of the building and grab something from their cars,” English teacher Deborah Ward said. “Another thing that has changed is the signing in and out of classrooms so that its documented when they’re [students] in or out of your classroom. That emphasis is new.”  

Being able to track who is in the building and where students are when they are here is especially important to administrators when considering safety. 

“The new emphasis on kids being in their classrooms and not being in the halls is a new focus as well. I don’t think kids think about that, but you’re much safer if you’re in a classroom rather than being out in the hallways,” Ward said. 

The necessity for more advanced and efficient security procedures has also intensified and were integrated into many OPS schools with the construction this summer. The most recent adjustments began implementation in late October. These updates consist of stricter regulations regarding doors being locked or propped open, a change in security guard personnel and a new entry system.  

“The physical updates that you can see right now are the extra set of doors in the east hallways. [Recent updates] include I.D. badges for staff where they can swipe an I.D. and a door will open for them,” vice principal Dr. Andrew Walters said. “And, running recently is our push-button system where at the east doors, the west doors and the main entrance, you push a button, you’re on a camera where they can see your face, you interact with the security officer and they buzz you in, similar to Beveridge or Crestridge, or any other standard OPS middle or elementary school.” 

Not only have updates to schools been made, but complete transformations of security policies have been introduced as well.  

“We’ve ramped up our awareness of our surroundings and changed the rotation of our security officers as far as where they’re at in the building and when, and when they take their lunches. And, we’ve increased our awareness in the front of the building during the day with the new security measures and work in collaboration with teachers to help police students in the hallways and help get students to class at an increased rate,” Walters said. “In addition, there’s better communication between our SRO and staff concerning how we can support each other.” 

Although the added security enhances the feeling of safety of among students, others find them less efficient.  

“Even with the additional security, Burke is so overpopulated that they can’t help a lot,” senior Gracie Johnson said.  

Overall, it’s expected among students that security will continue to improve as time passes and to address any safety issues that the security faces today.  

“Burke security has improved in the hallways by making sure kids are going to class and in the right areas, but I think they still let a lot of people in and out of the building. I think it will continue to get better with the new systems on the doors as long as they are watching who is going in and out,” senior Payton Coughlin said.