School district launches command center to enhance safety

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 12:30 PM CDT
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BROOKLAND, Ark. (KAIT) - With kids back in classrooms across the country, school safety is on the minds of millions. For the Brookland School District, though, parents can rest more easily when their children are on campus.

The district is launching what they said is the first of its kind in the area: a full-blown command center that will be active any time school is in session. It’s equipped with cameras from all across the campus that can be viewed in real-time or played back to see past events.

Jeff Presley, school safety coordinator at Brookland, has years of service as a 911 dispatcher in Jonesboro. He said the command center will operate in a similar fashion.

“It’s a small 911 center, if you will. We’re connected with radio systems through the local law enforcement, the sheriff’s department, Brookland police, Jonesboro police,” Presley said.

The project has been in the works for some time, but recent events have given the center a new perspective.

According to Brookland’s Director of Security Doug Formon, a former Jonesboro police officer, creating the center was a necessity.

“The administration liked the idea and said let’s go forward with it. And that was before the tragedy that happened in Texas,” Formon said. “The event in Texas has really just put the exclamation point on school safety across the country right now.”

The center isn’t just for school shooting-level events but can also assist administrators in disciplining kids who are breaking school rules. The cameras will catch anything from a fight in the hallway to a fender bender in the parking lot.

“Not only will we be monitoring the cameras but also weather reports, traffic reports, anything that may affect the safety of our children or our staff,” Presley said.

In the case of an emergency, the center can contact local authorities and emergency personnel. In a school shooting situation, the center would be able to relay real-time information to officers, EMTs, and other first-responders on the ground.

Presley said his policy is to be proactive when it comes to keeping children safe rather than reactive. If the command center helps keep one child safe while on campus at Brookland, he says the whole project is worth it.

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