BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33)(FOX 44) -
McKinley High School now has a new security alert system, thanks to a donation from a national company headquartered in Baton Rouge.
Open Eyes Technology taught students, school officials and law enforcement how to use the new system during a drill on Thursday afternoon. The company's co-owner, Kelly Leduff, said the system will allow law enforcement to respond faster if there were an active shooter situation.
There are ten blue boxes around the school campus that look like fire alarms. To activate the alarm, a student or staff member pulls the lever.
"When the box is pulled, it lets all the school administrators know, all the teachers, faculty, staff and law enforcement," Leduff said. "Within seven to ten seconds, they know exactly where on campus a device was pulled."
To show school administration how the system works, Leduff had someone pull the alarm. The blue box made a loud sound. A few minutes later law enforcement officers, teachers and administrators got a call followed by a text. The message told them an active shooter was on campus, showing them a map detailing exactly which blue box was pulled.
Then, based on the location of the classroom, the teacher has to decide whether to run, hide or fight. In this case, the classroom in question was towards the back of the campus, while the simulated active shooter was located near the front office. The teacher made the call to have the students run to the football field to meet under the bleachers.
When all of the students were accounted for at the bleachers, the teacher picked up her phone to alert law enforcement and administrators that her class was accounted for and safe. She said it was as simple as sending a text and law enforcement got the alert just seconds later.
Last year, McKinley High School went on lockdown five times because of shootings in the neighborhoods near the school's campus. That's when school officials reached out to councilwoman Tara Wicker, who represents that area. Wicker discovered Open Eyes Technology in her efforts to lower the crime rate in the community.
Open Eyes Technology donated this school alert system as a way to help alleviate security concerns at McKinley.
Wicker said, in addition to keeping kids safe, the system sends quick alerts to parents, so they don't have to worry if their child is okay.
"For me as a parent, this gives me the ease and comfort to know that even in the event that something does happen, we always pray that it doesn't, that our kids have some technology to be safe," Wicker said. "We can immediately find out where our kids are, if they're safe, if something is happening and we don't have to wait four or five hours outside a school gate wondering if my child is going to make it home."
Wicker said she is working with city officials and Rep. Ted James to try to get these systems in more East Baton Rouge Parish schools. Officials with the school district said they would welcome the support.