How Safe is Your School? New Police Program Ranks School Building Safety

June 10, 2013

Albemarle County police have begun performing safety audits on each school building in the county.

"I think it's a sign of the times," said Officer Steve Watson, a crime prevention specialist with the Albemarle County police department. "Schools are getting more and more interested in safety."

Agnor-Hurt Elementary is the second school in the county to be inspected under the new program. The school's assistant principal, Doug Granger, said school leaders are doing everything possible to prevent a tragedy like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 people dead, including 20 children.

"There has been a real urgency, or real sense of, let's double check, triple check, quadruple check everything we are doing," Granger said.

A team of officers from ACPD trained under a national program this past spring in Kansas. This month marked the first of the school building inspections. Using a four page check list provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the officers examine the exterior and interior of each school building. One of the top priorities is controlling access.

"If you can control who comes in the building and you know who is in the building, you can keep it safer and keep the people you don't want in, out," Watson said.

Once the audit is completed, officers will present their findings and suggestions for improvement to school administrators at Agnor-Hurt.

Principal Granger said the school has one main goal with the safety audits. "Can we answer the question, are kids safe here, and have we done everything we can to make sure that happens."

The safety audits will be completed in every school in the county over the next three years. For specific information on a particular school's safety evaluation, officers suggest contacting school officials.

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