HCPS looking to continue making schools safer with new initiatives

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 11:56 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) are working to make school grounds safer.

Tuesday night, Dr. Michael Richards, Harrisonburg City Schools Superintendent, gave his safety report and had new ideas on how HCPS can maintain safe learning environments.

Whether it’s a swatting call or a real threat, HCPS wants to be able to act quickly and address the problem.

At Tuesday’s Harrisonburg City School Board meeting, the board discussed key card access systems, possible AI to detect weapons on school grounds and a color system to determine what level of a lockdown is needed.

Some of these measures like the key card access system have already been approved.

Others like the AI detection system would still need to be voted on by the school board.

However, Dr. Richards hopes they all can be put in place starting in the fall of 2023.

”We need to know whos in the building and why but this will make it even better in that sense because we’ll be able to know from the swipe of a key whos in the building and we can cancel a key if we need to for security reasons,” Dr. Richards said.

HCPS has also added digital mapping to show law enforcement a clear view of the school they’re responding to.

”The AI, the artificial intelligence is able to identify threats and so the artificial intelligence in this case identifies a weapon,” Dr. Richards said.

Dr. Richards said this kind of technology wouldn’t have any ability for facial recognition.

This safety measure is still in the preliminary phases, but he hopes to have it integrated by the fall semester.

Harrisonburg police chief Kelly Warner said there are no other uses of AI for security in Harrisonburg.

If installed HCPS would be the first to use the new technology.