School safety in Gallipolis City Schools

By Morgan McKinniss -

CENTENARY — At the recent public safety meeting held by the Gallipolis City School District, Safety Director Troy Johnson presented on the policies and procedures to the public on how the district protects the students and staff in an emergency situation.

“One of the questions right after the recent Parkland incident was, what does our school district have in place? So we thought it was important that the public knows that,” said Johnson.

One area the district has focused on in their security efforts is the outside of the buildings. External building security is the first point of contact in an emergency. The district has 234 cameras installed throughout the district, all of which can be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the Gallia 911 center.

“A lot of people don’t think about is good lighting. Our district has made a huge investment in upgrading our lighting throughout the district, it has proven to be a very big security item,” said Johnson.

While efficient LED lighting is better for security purposes, it also saves money on electric and provides better visibility to guests visiting schools after dark, as well as deter criminal activity.

Another major update to external building security is the addition of airphones at each building, locking all exterior doors, and directing all traffic through one door. The airphone has a camera and intercom so building staff can see and talk to who is trying to enter the building before the doors are unlocked.

“Locking all interior doors has proven to be a very good tool throughout the day. We test this with our lock down drills, and we noticed over the years when your heart beat gets up your body and mind don’t cooperate. So already having things like locked doors has been huge,” said Johnson.

Regarding locks, the district no longer uses traditional keys. Instead, key cards are used in all buildings for several reasons. The system provides a history of who accessed what doors and when, any key card can be deactivated remotely from the system in case it is lost, and it helps manage who can access a given area of the building.

Current policies include locking the inside doors during school hours. Students can still go from class to class, however locking interior doors can eliminate a step when seconds count.

“Our district also utilizes a classroom door barricade system. We currently have those deployed in buildings throughout the district. One of the biggest feedback’s when we do our lock down drills when talking to staff, was buildings with those installed the staff overwhelmingly felt secure, like they did not need to do much more,” said Johnson.

The district always uses good policy to manage and prevent emergencies. Staff members are posted in areas with large crowds of students, such as breakfast and lunch. According to Johnson, this helps prevent problems before they start. According to Johnson, staff not only observe students from a distance but will interact and build relationships with the students, making them aware of issues like bullying.

While staff receive additional training on how to handle crisis situations, law enforcement are encouraged to come and do walk-thrus of each building as an added measure. The officers have complete access to the buildings to become familiar with them and to create a proactive presence to help deter possible crime.

By Morgan McKinniss

Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.

Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.