Security expert assesses school safety

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 18, 2000

Security expert Jay Ginn of Jones Community College recently put on a black trench coat and walked the Natchez High School campus for 20 minutes without drawing much attention. Ginn did this test as a way of accessing security at the Seargent S. Prentiss&160;Drive campus.

He later asked a guard why they did not question him and was told it was because he had gotten out of a vehicle with George Dunkley, the director of transportation and security for the Natchez-Adams County School District.

And finally a vo-tech teacher did stop and inquire into his presence, Ginn said.

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Ginn, the state trainer of school resource officers, visited the district recently to offer security recommendations.

The district has a good safety and emergency plan but &uot;overall you need to begin a well published safety program for the district and make sure the parents are involved,&uot; Ginn said.

The district is looking into employing the types of officers Ginn trains to insure better school security.

&uot;Our kids are good kids,&uot; said Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis. &uot;We’ve had some challenges, like every district, but nothing major.&uot;

But by using actual police officers, campuses should be even safer and administrators should have to deal with less discipline problems, Davis said.

The school resource officers have the same training as police officers plus an additional 40 hours of training to work in school.

&uot;You deal with kids in a school setting a lot different than you deal with kids on the street,&uot; Ginn said.

You also need someone who can work with kids, he added.

The district also has the option of allowing these officers to carry weapons, on campus — something security guards cannot do.

The officers can also arrest students if they have probable cause.

&uot;We’ll have&160;(somebody) fully trained right there there on the scene,&uot; to help with any situation,&uot; Davis said. The district does not have that right now.

Davis said he would like the district hire two of the officers for Natchez High School, an officer and an assistant for Natchez Middle School and an officer and an assistant for Central Alternative School. Some of these officers would also be responsible for patrolling the elementary schools, Davis said.

Ginn gave his security recommendations to the Natchez-Adams County school board at last week’s regular meeting.

Since Natchez High School is an open campus, its biggest problem is restricting access.

To make the campus safer, Ginn suggested increasing security personnel and maybe installing cameras in the area outside the cafeteria.

At Natchez Middle School Ginn said the district should increase security personnel, install cameras and restrict access to only the main entrance.

The Central Alternative School, also needs to restrict access to its campus and make sure students are kept completely separate from students who attend Central as part of the Adolescent Offenders Program.

The elementary schools are the safest places in the district but need more parental involvement, Ginn said.