Lawrence Township school district discuss safety and security at PREP


Natalie Rowland, Reporter

Students at LN have begun to get used to the new security changes this school year. They are familiar with the random bag searches, the metal detectors, and the alarms on all the outside doors. What students may not know about are the other security measures that the district is taking behind the scenes.


On Aug. 23, Superintendent Dr. Shawn Smith, along with other school security officials, hosted a meeting to inform parents about some of the new security measures being implemented throughout the district. Dr. Shawn Smith hopes that parents walked away with a better understanding of their procedures.


“We want to make sure that everyone in the community fully understands what we do to make your children safe,” Dr. Shawn Smith said.


For the past few years, Lawrence Township has been using metal detectors at large events such as sports competitions and school dances. However, the everyday use of metal detectors when entering school, is new to this year.


“We have been metal detecting at large events for over three years now, so it’s not anything new for people who come to our facilities. It’s just another step in safety and security that we are putting into place,” Chief Operations Officer Rodger Smith said.


For the past five years, Lawrence Township has been using K9 unit dogs to help further protect the schools. MSDLT owns a dog named Axel who specializes in narcotics detection. They also share a dog, Niko, with the City of Lawrence that specializes in locating guns, bombs, and explosives. Director of Security Officer Jim Parish hopes that using the dogs will encourage students not to bring these items into the building.


“The dogs have been introduced into the school and they’re not used to scare off or hurt anyone. It’s to encourage people not to bring things into our schools,” Parish said.


One thing that they are all striving for is to build a relationship between the students and the security officers. The police officers on staff at the school and the security officers are trying to build these relationships through interaction with the students at school and in their community. Chief of Lawrence Police David Hofmann believes this will allow students to better trust the security officers in their school and the police officers in their community.


“We are trying to build that trust and accountability that people expect in police officers.” Hofmann said.


A new thing the district has implemented this year are procedures for emergency situations. Each building now has ‘go-bags’ in every classroom. In the bag, teachers have class rosters so that they can verify they have all of their students. They also different colored signs that they can hold up or put on classroom doors to tell the emergency personnel whether or not everything is okay. The signs are something new this year for schools to use to help communicate during emergency situations.  Additionally, there is a pamphlet with step by step instructions for whatever disaster or emergency situation there is. This will help the teachers know what procedures they need to follow to keep themselves and their students safe.


“Every building has an emergency preparedness plan. In that plan it addresses active shooter, fire, tornado, earthquake, biohazardous that could happen in and around our community and what would that school do in case that situation occurred,” Rodger Smith said.


The district has put all of these measures, new and old, in place to keep students safe. Dr. Smith believes that not only will that benefit the community now, but it will also benefit the community for years to come.


“There’s no doubt about it, the children are important. And if they’re safe then the community will certainly be able to thrive in the future. So we want to make sure we keep our children safe 100 percent of the time because you are our future,” Dr. Shawn Smith said.