Keeping students safe: New security measures in place

Treyce Warner, News Editor

You may have noticed a sheriff’s watchful eyes as you pull into second lot, or seen the squad of police cars arriving before the homecoming pep rally; this is just the beginning of what is expected to be a year-long or even permanent plan to ramp up security on campuses. Schools have reopened while COVID-19 infection rates have fallen, but new problems are arising in COVID’s place. Concerns over gun violence, especially in schools, continue to be a topic of discussion even after years. Now the issue has become local; in the first six weeks of school, five firearms have been found on WS/FCS campuses alone.
“It’s important we rethink the way we keep the kids safe, because that’s our number one priority [the safety of the students],” said Principal Kevin Spainhour.
The Mount Tabor shooting occurred just over a month ago, and many fights have broken out both before and since at many schools across the district. To combat this, the WS/FCS School Board has proposed a few ideas to increase safety in its schools, such as increased student resource officer (SRO) presence, keycard or coded access panels, and possibly equipping SROs with metal detectors. While the plans for the latter two are being discussed, the board is currently held up by funding and logistics concerns and does not expect to implement these plans any time soon, according to assistant principal Rhonda Powell.
However, increased SRO presence is beyond the point of discussion and has become an active project. While West has not had a firearm incident or a fighting problem thus far, the open campus and large student body forces the district to err on the side of caution.
K-9 units, coming with sniffer dogs and handlers, have also been sighted on campus at a far greater rate than the beginning of the school year and previous years at West. While the K-9s are a topic of debate, with some taking issue to the decrease in privacy they hold and others glad the district is finally doing something about safety in the school, the regular sweeps are likely here to stay along with the rest of the police presence in the school.
After school, the picture doesn’t look much different. After a drive-by shooting at a Glenn football game in Charlotte and the various concerns over safety previously mentioned, football games are being monitored more closely as well. Metal detectors are being used upon entrance to games. Clear bags or no bags is the rule, as well as a further officer presence near campus while games are in progress, especially as students enter or exit their school’s stadiums.
While many processes are being put into place to combat the trouble facing schools upon reopening, no one solution is perfect or will fix any given scenario. The district is doing what it can to alleviate the pressure upon students and administrators to stay safe, and hopefully these precautions will remain just that- precautions.