Santa Fe schools, students address security issues
February 27, 2018 06:28 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. -- Santa Fe High School students made their voice heard Monday as the school board debates an issue making waves across the nation: what to do about school security?
The debate comes as New Mexico schools face social media threats on what seems to be a daily basis.
Some of those threats happened in Santa Fe. Superintendent Veronica Garcia said all the threats in the district were first reported to school officials by students. They plan on making schools even safer by buying new equipment and technology.
The schools currently have cameras, intercoms and automatic door locks, Garcia said. There are 20 security guards rotating all campuses 24 hours a day, and every visitor has to sign in and be checked into their computer system.
"Each classroom has emergency supplies and equipment that would help them in case of an emergency, whether that be an evacuation, a shelter in place, or even a lockdown," said Gabe Romero, the director of safety and security.
They plan on upgrading that system where visitors will have to go through a security check and use a recognized ID.
"Once school's in session, those doors are locked," Garcia said. "You have to have a badge to enter into buildings."
All students go through 11 drills each school year. Then there are also preventative measures too.
"What do you do if a student's displaying some behavior that's concerning?" Romero said. "Because it's been proven that the vast majority of the times -- at least 92 percent of the time -- there's behavior that's concerning that's been brought to the attention of somebody when a serious event occurs. So we've had that training. These people know what the warning signs are."
The district also plans on adding an extra layer of protection by buying door barricade devices for all the classrooms. The funding is already there, and it'll cost about $320,000.
"Implement a Rhino Door-like device, which is an automatic door lock device that makes the door pretty much impenetrable," Garcia said.
They're also considering providing active shooter training to older students and adding armed security officers
"I feel that we need to have the right people within the schools -- retired law enforcement officers, school resource officers who have been through the training and know how to use a firearm," said Robert Velasquez, a captain with the Santa Fe Police Department.
Some students have said they're not comfortable with having anyone armed on campus, but that armed security guards instead of teachers could be a good compromise. Earlier in the day, some students voiced their concerns.
"The issues of gun violence in schools is unfortunately something that we are all taking on and on in the face of one national tragedy after another," said one student, Sophia Colson. "We are all really working for solutions. Every student has the opportunity to be active in preventing incidents in creating a safer environment.
"We can change the way we interact and treat each other. ... We can be encouraging rather than hateful."
The students hope by speaking up and speaking out, they can continue a conversation that could lead to change.
"We've got to face the reality that we're going to be exposed to the world you guys made for us, and it's unfortunately killing us," student Willie Weibe said. "Something has to change, and what these students are doing in parkland across the country has been very empowering. And I think a change is coming."
VOLCANO VISTA TO UNDERGO LOCKDOWN DRILLS
An Albuquerque school is making an effort to be ready in the event of an active shooter. Volcano Vista High School said Tuesday it began the first in a series of unannounced lockdown drills, which will continue through the semester.
Also this week, Volcano Vista released new school security procedures. They include directing teachers to lock classroom doors and cover interior windows during instructional time. Click here to see the full list of changes.
~ KOB.com Web Staff
Updated: February 27, 2018 06:28 PM
Created: February 27, 2018 06:40 AM
Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved