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School Security Changes Since Columbine Shooting in 1999

DES MOINES, Iowa – 2019 marks 20 years since the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.

Des Moines Public Schools Security Specialist David Murillo said over the last 20 years school security has drastically changed.

“Back in my days of school nobody thought about bringing a weapon to school. Nobody thought about coming to school and creating problems, and just because of the society’s condition right now sometimes that happens. Not a whole lot, but we’re prepared to handle it now with technology and the police skill set,” Murillo said.

Schools are now equipped with the right tools to know who is in a building at all times.

Des Moines Public Schools Safety Compliance Specialist Pamela Rosa said exterior building doors are now locked at all times, people have to ring a bell to get in to the main office and then need to show identification.

“For our electronic visitor check in system it checks against the sex offender registry. When we have an identification, such as a driver’s license or green card we’re able to make sure that person is who they say they are,” Rosa said.

The district monitors all 72 of its buildings with around 2,000 cameras.

“Any communication can be a challenge, so we have a robust 911 system that tells us what school is calling 911 and a phone rings and know what is happening,” Rosa said.

On Thursday the public is welcomed to participate in an event called “Rachel’s Challenge.” The program focuses on the first shooting victim from Columbine, Rachel Joy Scott and how the power of her kindness impacted the student body.

“If you see something that looks suspicious tell somebody. Let somebody know. More times often than not a person who’s got ill intentions in a school or any place they kind of telegraph what they are going to do. They say things, they start acting funny start doing stupid things. They get on social media sites and make threats, that’s kind of what’s changed and it’s for the better. People now are more perceptive,” Murillo said.

Murillo said communication and trust impacts how a student interacts with peers, officers, and staff members.

DMPS has 12 officers in and out of the buildings. Eight of those officers were previously in the police force or state patrol.

“Police work sets you up to be able to go in and handle any situation almost imaginable,” Murillo said.

People interested in listening to “Rachel’s Challenge” are asked to be at least 11-years-old. The event is Thursday February 7th from 6:30 p.m. It is located at Johnston Middle School.

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