Reno Conference Shows the New Age of School Security
School security is a fast-growing business. Police presence in public schools has increased dramatically over the past 3 decades, from fewer than 100 cops nationwide in the late 1970's to over 15,000 school police today. At the National Association of School Resource Officers' Conference at the Peppermill, we saw seminars on school lockdown training...gang intervention...and a martial arts fighter leading a talk on how to stop bullying. Kevin Quinn of the NASRO said "It's because those are the issues that the kids are dealing with on a daily basis, so the officers need to be trained on how to deal with them. You've got alcohol awareness, bullying prevention, drug awareness…all sorts of different things."
The conference shows school officials the newest technology developed to protect our kids. Vendors run the gamut. One booth exhibited "the Raptor," a compact computerized system that instantly checks every school visitor with a nationwide sex offender database. The reason behind it isn't too hard to determine. As the Raptor's Jim Versterman told us, "In America there are 785,000 sex offenders."
We watched a demonstration of "the Raptor." After 10 seconds, an offender will get a red screen. Vesterman pointed out that the laptop computer "also pulls up their sex offender profile." Those that get the all-clear get a hall pass, printed off the same laptop. Vesterman told us, "We've caught over 10,000 sex offenders entering schools in the last 9 years."
It's somewhat disconcerting to see items like this made for schools nowadays, but the sad fact is, things are happening in classrooms that would be totally foreign to those of us who went to class in the 50's, 60's or even 70's. The contrast is striking at John Shatung's booth. His company, CMI, Inc., sells a breathalyzer to use on students, specifically for use at events like proms. As he demonstrated, the handy plastic cone can be carried by anyone. "Just have the students blow into the cone. There's the fuel cell located inside there. Green means zero alcohol, and red means the student has alcohol in their system."
6 booths away, Deb Kusmec sells the "Fatal Vision" to about 10,000 schools every year. They are goggles that simulate the effect of being drunk, intended to educate students about the dangers of intoxication. Deb says it's much more effective than just telling students not to drink so much. I got the message loud and clear when I tried them myself. Deb told me, "First I want to see if you're sober. With your right hand, touch my right finger..." Goggles on, I barely made it 3 feet before I lost my balance.
New tools, for a new age. Increased safety, through more accurate technology. As Kevin Quinn told me, "Everything is getting high tech. We have to keep up with the kids." The conference, in its 22nd year, will be in Reno through Friday.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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