TROUP COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – As the Troup County School System heads into the 2022-2023 school year, administrators are doing what they can to ensure the safety of students and faculty.
Steve Heaton, the Security and Safety Coordinator for TCSS, discussed with WRBL the new security measures and plans the school system has to make sure all teachers and administrators are in accord.
“Going into this school year we’ve had multiple training events already. We’ve had the administrators training and the annual active threat training that we do. The LaGrange Police Department came in and we did a presentation on what has been happening in the nation with the school shootings; what that means to us and what that means to them,” said Heaton.
All teachers and administrators have been trained in emergency preparedness plans, they have received crisis alert badges and they have trained on a behavioral threat analysis tool.
Heaton described the crisis alert badges as a quick response notification system custom to each TCSS employee. The system comes embedded with a GPS system and a level threat system. The badge is deployed three times for smaller threats like a medical emergency and eight times for a major threat like an active shooter that causes a lockdown. The district administrators confirm the threat and law enforcement then respond where the threat is happening.
“It has worked really well for us, cause I think they were issued back in February, which is when the system went live. Between February and the end of the school year, which was May, we had roughly 798 activations,” said Heaton.
Heaton said the 798 activations were for minor incidents in the schools like medical emergencies and fights. He said the biggest benefit of the alert system is the quick response it allows.
TCSS has also implemented a behavioral threat assessment software that was developed after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that killed 32 people and injured 17 people, according to Heaton.
“The software allows us to input information on any type of threat in a school whether it is a minor threat or a major threat and then we track those over time,” said Heaton.
Faculty members in each school are given guidelines to treat each threat based on the severity. The threats are tracked and students could then receive different services like social and psychological ones for the students making the threat, the victim and their families.
“What we’re hoping to be able to do there is intervene at an earlier stage. Say if the victim has been bullied over time and we have him or her in our system multiple times as a victim then what we would do is start focusing on what a plan may look like for that specific person so that they don’t become overwhelmed and then a potential threat for a school system,” said Heaton.
The school system also tries to intervene early with the student making the threat and provide them with services.