April 4, 2013 By Dylan Scott, Governing
It's a nightmare scenario for any school: A shooter forces his way onto the premises and opens fire. But if such an event were to happen at one of the 14 public and private schools in Marietta, Ga., teachers and administrators can now press a panic button that directly alerts the authorities.
The idea of a panic button had been in discussion in Marietta for a while, says David Baldwin, an officer at the Marietta Police Department, but the December tragedy in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 elementary school students dead, put the policy on a fast track. Installation of the buttons, which cost about $5,000 altogether, began in January. Installation and testing are now complete, and the buttons are ready to use -- although administrators hope they never have to.
“Newtown really accelerated a lot of things. Things that might have been a little further down the road were pushed to the front of the line,” Baldwin says. “One of those things was the panic buttons.”
The Marietta police department isn’t releasing the exact number or locations of the panic buttons that were installed. But they have been outfitted with protections to make sure they aren’t accidentally pressed, Baldwin says, and the buttons are located in places where only teachers and administrators can access them.