By Britt Moreno
DENVER (CBS4) — Denver Public Schools is working to improve student safety on campus by investing millions in better technology — and by conducting unannounced drills.
Recent tragic events have brought school safety to the forefront of school budgets.
Denver Public Schools has allocated over $6 million to school safety upgrades. The money comes from a district bond voted by Denver voters in 2016.
Friday morning, Chief Michael Eaton of the DPS Department of Safety walked CBS4 morning anchor Britt Moreno through the changes that will help students and staff lock down faster than ever.
- Each classroom in Denver’s 207 campuses will be outfitted with new locks. Should a threat enter school grounds, teachers can lock classrooms from within rather than outside classrooms.
- Eaton also says there are new intercoms at all DPS owned buildings that provide office staff the ability to see and talk to people before allowing people into schools.
- There is also a new text communication system that parents are encouraged to join. Parents can access this text system by logging into their parent portal online.
The Department of Technology Services and the Department of Safety’s Emergency Preparedness Division is monitoring these security upgrades.
DPS will also carry out surprise lockdown drills on school campuses to prepare for the possibility of an active shooter. The Emergency Management Division for the Department of Safety will conduct the drill. Trained emergency management specialists will watch each drill and later debrief school leaders about what went well and what needs improvement.
Melissa Craven, who’s the Director of Emergency Management for DPS, says in the past they would alert schools ahead of the drills, but found that warning made the tests less effective.
“When we would show up to observe the drill the classroom doors were already locked, people were already hiding, lights were already off,” Craven said. “They weren’t getting a true sense at what our preparedness was. And practice makes perfect.”
Every school in the district will have a drill within the first 30 days of this semester.
DPS staff conducted a massive active shooter drill in a school back in June to test out the communication and action of staff and agency partners.
Chief Eaton said it was the first joint effort between Denver emergency response agencies including the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department and paramedics.
Chief Eaton says it takes 90 seconds for emergency responders to get to a campus.