How schools handle security as threats increase

How schools handle security as threats increase

Recent school shootings in Florida and Maryland led to a lot of threat investigations in our local school districts. Target 11 started looking into what some districts already were doing to protect students, and how the recent school shootings have changed that.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is no stranger to safety measures. The district has had metal detectors in place for more than 15 years.

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"It's a deterrent," Chief George Brown of the Pittsburgh School Police told Target 11. "We had, this year, close to 47 cases that we had kids come through. Most of them are like, 'I forgot.'"

In most of those cases, police in the schools found Mace or items like multi-tools with the detectors.

"We didn't have any cases where someone came in to do harm," Chief Brown said.

While the numbers are not out about how many school districts have metal detectors in Pennsylvania, we do know there are about 2,000 school security guards statewide.

Target 11's Rick Earle spoke to state Rep. Jason Ortitay, a Republican from Canonsburg, about whether there should be metal detectors in every school district.

"I think if schools want to have that, that should be their choice," he said.

Ortitay said he is working on funding for school safety. After the discovery of online threats made by the Parkland, Florida, shooter, he told Target 11 he is considering proposing legislation to make a social media check part of the gun background check.

"If someone is making terrorist threats to someone, then they probably shouldn't be allowed to buy a firearm," he said.

He did say he thinks schools should be limited to a single entrance to enhance security, but thinks any other safety measures should be left up to individual districts to decide.

Washington School District Superintendent James Konrad told Target 11 he doesn't think metal detectors are necessary right now.

"From my standpoint, if you are going to lock down a school and treat it like a prison, then that's how students are going to view it," he said.

The Washington School District has police officers who check in at the schools. The superintendent believes the key to a safe school is knowing your students and keeping an open line of communication.

"We are talking with parents, families and neighbors because that's important to get a pulse on, hey, what are our kids doing within the school district," he said. "Are there any conflicts that we are hearing about that we should be aware of?"


To see how your district is doing, click on the lists below: