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Fenton Schools Increase Security with Buzzer System

All Fenton Area Public School buildings will have a single point of entry, monitored by school staff and video cameras.

Visitors at Fenton Area Public Schools won’t simply be able to walk in freely any longer.

In efforts to create stronger security for the district, officials are installing buzzer systems in all buildings, forcing visitors to identify themselves before entering the school. Cameras will also be installed so staff can observe those coming to the door. All other doors of the buildings will be locked.

After pushing the "call in" button, guests will be asked to state the nature of visit, their names and the student’s name. Once admitted, all adults in the building must check in at the office and wear a Visitor’s Badge.

“It may be an inconvenience to some people that are used to running in and having free access, but being more cautious and protective is the right thing to do for our students and staff,” said Fenton Superintendent Tim Jalkanen.

He said the decision for increased security were based on the Sandy Hook shooting and other events across the country, along with talks with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department and Fenton Police Department.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Fenton Police Chief Rick Aro said about the buzzer system. “We are looking at other security enhancements that could take place over the next few months.”

Aro said Fenton Police have been working with a Genesee County Sheriff’s Department officer, hired to be a school liaison for all Genesee County Schools with the main goals of putting together protocol for crisis situations and enhancing security.

“We are still working closely with all the schools,” Aro said.

The buzzers have been installed and are now operating in all Fenton Area Public Schools, except Fenton High School. The high school's system should be working by the end of this week, Jalkanen said.

North Road Elementary put the buzzer system into effect on Monday. The buzzer system will activate each day at 8:55am and stay on until 3:25pm.

No adult is allowed go to a classroom or wait outside of a classroom during school hours without permission and a badge. School staff is required to wear a picture I.D. badge and are authorized to question any individual inside the building who is not wearing a visitor’s badge.

North Road Elementary Principal Trevor Alward said he has received nothing but positive feedback from parents.

“They are appreciative that we took safety into consideration,” he said.

Alward said the staff is still working on a script to greet visitors to be welcoming, yet able to get information from people they don’t recognize. Jalkanen said he doesn’t want parents or visitors to be discouraged from visiting the school.

“We are still a school and we want to be inviting,” Jalkanen said. “Most visitors are parents picking up kids, or dropping things off. We still want to be inviting in addition to the extra level of security.”

Robert Marr February 06, 2013 at 05:24 PM
This is a good first-step. However, like gun control, it only controls those who will be controlled, and not those who refuse to play the game. (insert: psychopathic nut-case who is hell-bent on generating as much carnage as possible) It is so sad that we as a society have to go to this extent, and further to protect our children from a tiny number of undetectable mentally-ill criminals among us. Next thing we know, we'll have an armed guard in every school. (Not a bad idea when you think about trying to stop bullets with erasers) We'll have rebuilt our schools to eliminate all windows on outside walls. We'll have installed elaborate systems to recognize facial-scans or retinal-scans. We'll have installed metal detectors, or even the full-body scanners that became famous after 9-11. How far will we go to protect our kids?
Melinda Ramirez February 06, 2013 at 07:02 PM
I am excited about our new buzzer system..Yes i am sure it could be a inconvenience to some. The safety factor out weighs the annoyance part by far.I also knows if evil wants in ..It will find a way in...I do agree with Robert Marr on part of his comment..What next rebuild schools with NO windows...I would not like that...Nor would i want to see outdoor recess stopped.
R Martin February 07, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Jason- please do a follow up on this and ask to see the school's safety policy to go along with these procedures. How long do they wait to call police? Does it have to be approved by the Principal etc.? I am guessing if there is one it was only recently written. I witnessed an incident at the middle school with an irate parent (non-custodial) recently and I felt police should have been called. It got pretty scary. The secretaries had no idea how to handle it. If they don't have regualr procedures that they DRILL with the staff the buzzer won't do any good because the threat is most likely to be a custody issue with a parent that is buzzed in. Sandy Hook had everything right and had drilled this for 5 years and still the gunman got around it.
Richard Smith February 07, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Well, this measure will help appease the "wont someone please think of the children" crowd but if I remember correctly, the gunman in Sandy Hook shot his way through the security entrance. It's a feel good measure that will at least stop the average ne'er-do-wells from freely entering the building. I'm just trying to be realistic.

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