Albemarle County police say the chances of an intruder going into a school and doing the unthinkable is low - but it's a possibility they still have to worry about.
Police are in the process of completing security audits to make sure schools are making the grade for safety. But the approach isn't always typical. Police say simply trying to lock the bad guys out isn't always the answer. And when it is, it's usually only part of the solution. Police explain how updating the school's appearance could be more effective.
"Once you are the one who controls access into your facility or school, you control who is coming and going,” said Albemarle County Officer Steve Watson.
Watson says keeping schools safe is more than deadbolts on doors.
"When the police come in, people sometimes are skeptical. What are you going to do, put barbed wire around the school?" Watson said.
The county's school security audit doesn't focus so much on a hard approach as it does the environment itself. In a typical review, Watson looks at the school from a visitor's perspective, including how easy is it for people to enter the building without being directed to the main office.
"And I look at basically where in the main office are the secretaries, where they're positioned, how well they can see the front of school, how well they can see people entering the school. Can people enter the school without being seen?” Watson said.
Police are also trying to implement a little bit of psychology to decrease violence between students, suggesting schools put student artwork on the wall to give them a sense of ownership, and use warmer colors on walls aside from what he calls "institutional white."
"Color is shown to raise IQ. It calms behavior, so we look at a variety of things,” Watson said.
Police have done 12 audits out of 26 schools but they wouldn't share the results with, saying it's up to the schools.
But Watson says taking a holistic approach has built a sense of trust.
“I think it brought a relationship for the Police Department and the schools to know that they are not there to make it a really hardened facility, but make it a safe environment for the students,” Watson said.
Police say the goal is to perform audits on seven elementary schools over the summer. They will do high schools and middle schools next winter because it's important school is in session for those age groups.
Police Run Security Audits on Albemarle SchoolsMore>>
Natalie Wilson joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in April 2012.Full Story
Natalie Wilson joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in April 2012. She is a proud alum of Howard University and is currently pursuing her Master's in Communication at Johns Hopkins. Email/ Full Story
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