Heartland school district installs new method of safety

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - One Heartland school district now has a way to protect your kids at the push of a button.

Jackson R-2 became one of the first districts in the area to install a new method for safety.

They're commonly known as panic buttons, but they hope it will do the opposite: calm fears and potentially save lives.

It's something Jackson parents and teachers never want to think about, no community does, an intruder, or an active shooter coming into your child's school.

On Wednesday, Heartland News listened as Jackson law enforcement and the district conducted a test they do monthly. When the buttons are tested, every offer is notified through the system and everyone responds.

"It's an 'all go'," said Captain Rodney Barnes of the Jackson Police Department. "We treat every call like its the real thing."

"It's a hard but it's reality," said Shanna Wilson, principal at Orchard Elementary where she is in charge of Kindergarten through 3rd graders.

"We feel this security is top notch," said Wilson. "We don't make a decision that is not 100 percent for the kids. If it's better for kids then that's what we do."

Even before recent mass school shootings, Jackson school leaders and law enforcement say they were working on methods to keep your kids safer.

"The goal of any safety procedure plan is to reduce the response time for emergency responders," said Wade Bartels, security coordinator.

Bartels said Jackson R-2 is the only district in our area to install the panic button system.

"It brings me a lot of peace of mind it keeps the kids safe," Bartels said.

School security is something they take so seriously we've agreed not to show you where they are or what the district wide system looks like. Their action plan is also confidential it's only shared between the district and local law enforcement.

"A gunman in our schools is the worst thing we can imagine," said Captain Barnes.

Barnes explained in a real emergency when they hear the sound of the alert every member of law enforcement responds.

"It's a system that really cuts down on the time," said Captain Barnes. "It will not prevent someone from coming into the schools but it will give us a step up if they do."

The increased security is something that means to world to parents and their teachers.

"While they are here they are ours and we protect them like they are our own," Wilson said.

These systems aren't just in the schools but every community building. The approach to security here is ongoing. Jackson leaders say they will work continuously to find the best ways to protect your kids.

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