PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Local school districts are shoring up and reassessing security procedures in the wake of Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead.
The images of the deadly Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland are haunting. An ordinary day turned extraordinarily violent in an instant.
While Floridians are coming to grips with the mass casualties and scores of injured victims, the tragedy is forcing local law enforcement to reassess school security measures in this area.
“We have a large school police force,” said Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson.
Philadelphia police work in conjunction with the city’s local school police force. So far this school year, officers say there have been 80 school lockdowns throughout the district as each led to a massive police presence that often includes SWAT, canine and counterterrorism units.
“We have been working on lockdown plans for years, they’re constantly drilled,” said Wilson.
Wilson told reporters that officials take social media threats against schools very seriously.
“It’s all hands on deck when we get a threat,” said Wilson. “We intercept it immediately.”
While Philadelphia police and school district officers have the daunting task of protecting 300 public schools, Delaware County is tweaking its own school safety procedures by using systems like Delpass, a panic button or silent alarm system, that directly and immediately alerts law enforcement to a dangerous intruder or threatening situation involving students and staff.
“When that button is pushed there’s a certain protocol at our 911 center that our dispatchers follow. It’s not just a call to the school, it’s an immediate response where law enforcement is sent, as best as you can describe it is the calvary is coming,” said Delaware County Councilman John McBlain.
All 240 schools in Delaware County have these panic buttons and a new component could soon be added to all 911 dispatchers to see video from inside the school using cameras on scene during an emergency.
“Our dispatchers can pull up those video feeds and in real time be able to talk to the responding officers and tell them what we see,” said McBlain.
Delaware County is also working with a mental health hotline to get help for those in need. They also hold regularly scheduled safety summits to address school security measures throughout the county.
Police say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz confessed to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.