Marlow schools unveils new security system

Posted in: News
By Todd Brooks
Sep 12, 2013 - 9:09:41 AM

BIG BROTHERMarlow Public Schools’ new security system may make people think of Ft. Knox, but that is just fine with school administrators. They are protecting something more valuable than gold as far as they are concerned.
School shootings have become more common over the past few years, but the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut spurred many school districts into action.
Marlow was no exception, and after seeing what happened at a small school in Connecticut, local administrators had seen enough.
Almost immediately, access to campuses and buildings were narrowed from several to one. A more stringent policy for visitors was enacted. Classroom doors were locked.
Marlow Superintendent George Coffman rolled up his sleeves and started researching what could be done to protect students. Five months and $240,000 later, the district has a security system unlike any other in the area.
From his office, Coffman can view video from all three school campuses and the softball and baseball fields.
A large monitor hangs on the wall above his desk and he can view multiple feeds or concentrate on one. Coffman can see hallways, offices, and every classroom on campus, not to mention outside areas including parking lots and playgrounds. Not only can Coffman see into a classroom, but also the cameras have the option of zooming in and out.
“As I told the students and parents, we can’t completely stop a school shooter, but we can slow them down,” Coffman said.
The cameras are motion-activated and are used around the clock. Coffman showed an example of a student entering the weight room at the football field last Sunday afternoon. The camera started rolled when the door was open and the player entered to workout. The high definition cameras made the player easily recognizable.
The cameras do more than just help during a worst-case scenario.
“We’ve already been able to use them six or seven times to settle some problems,” Coffman said.
Coffman gave an example of a student’s missing keys – it took only seconds to determine who the pranksters were and those involved were punished with detention.
The new system involves more than just cameras as visitors pulling on doors during school hours have found out. New security call boxes, which include cameras, are stationed next to the doors. Visitors press a button to buzz the office where they are seen on camera and able to make their request before being buzzed in.
Not even school staff, who wear identification cards, can move around campus without a record of where they have been. They wave their ID card in front of a sensor to open a door while the system records the date and the time they entered.
Coffman has access to every campus and the three school principals have access to their own campus.
“It’s a shame it has come to this, but it is just the way the world is now,” Coffman said.
The only glitch with the new system is the jerky motion seen sometimes on the monitor. That problem is being resolved.
“We’re laying down fiber optic cable that is going to increase our connection speed 10 times than what it is now,” Coffman said. “I don’t know a whole lot about computer connections, but I do know the faster it is, the better it is.”
Students and parents pleased
Coffman has been pleasantly surprised by the positive response he has received from both students and their parents.
“On the whole, the response has been very good,” Coffman said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I think parents are appreciative of the steps we are taking to protect their children.”
Coffman then walked to Rhonda Hennan’s science class and asked the students about their feelings on the security system.
Responses ranged from feeling safe from outside and inside threats to knowing their valuables are being protected.
“When we first got (the cameras) we noticed them, but we don’t even notice them anymore or think about them,” Hennan said.

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