CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Following The Covenant School shooting, preventing school threats is the name of the game for nearly all area districts. In Montgomery County, security begins at the front door, including a new modernized weapons detection system meant to be more efficient than metal detectors.
“Covenant was a horrific act of violence that took place in March of this year and it definitely hit home for us,” said Emily Bowers, Safety and Health Specialist, Clarksville Montgomery County School System.
Bowers has been with the CMCSS for the past decade, managing the district’s security for the past six years. There’s no question, keeping students safe is a constantly evolving task.
“The role in schools safety has definitely changed over the years due to the amount of school shootings that have taken place,” Bowers said. “All of the school shootings have made us to look at our security and emergency plans and make sure we’re doing everything that we can possible to mitigate these things from happening.”
So what does that look like? Let’s start with the district’s Security Operations Center or the SOC. It’s equipped with 60 screens constantly monitoring activity across schools and is able to zoom in on any possible threats. While the center isn’t new, the district shared a rare look at the security headquarters in a location undisclosed for security reasons.
One thing that is new this year is the Evolv Express, a weapon detection system that checks students entering the building more efficiently than a regular metal detector.
“With Evolve, you can do up to 4,000 people in one hour. So, lots of our sporting venues, such as Bridgestone, uses Evolve technology, that way they can screen many amounts of people in a short amount of time” Bowers said.
Before anyone can even cross those front doors, all visitors must pass multiple checkpoints.
“They have to be buzzed in a second time to gain entry into the building as well. We have Raptor visitor management software, where it scans against the sex offender registry, as well. And then our front office personnel that sit behind the desk have an emergency button feature through that, that they can also press if they are in need of help,” Bowers explained.
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Also eliminating threats at the door, quite literally, are new ballistic film coverings. The technology works to stop bullets from breaking through glass.
These are just a few of dozens of measures Clarksville schools are taking to keep your child safe, as well as active threat drills, four times a year, designed to catch students off guard, like at lunch or in between classes.
With evolving threats, many on social media, school officials leave students with this: know that any message alluding to a school threat will be treated as if you said “bomb” in an airport.
“Every single threat that we get, we do take it extremely seriously, and we do pursue that by investigation.”
For the 2023-2024 school year, CMCSS has worked with the sheriff’s office to secure 55 school resource officers to serve across their 45 schools. Each school will have a dedicated SRO, and the district works to ensure a one-to-every-1,000 student-to-SRO ratio.
News 2 looks at how Middle Tennessee school districts are planning to keep kids safe ahead of the new school year. Find more Back 2 School coverage here.