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Ben Hill Co. schools revise active shooter safety protocols

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Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 6:44 PM EDT
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FITZGERALD, Ga. (WALB) - Ben Hill County School officials are hoping to lead by example with its new security system they said will prevent tragic situations.

The massacre in Uvalde that killed 19 young students and two school teachers has left some parents questioning whether or not they want to send their child back to school.

“Honestly, I can’t help but think of my own kids, being in that situation as a parent feeling hopeless,” said Anthony Thorpe, a Ben Hill County parent.

Parents’ concerns have caused schools like Ben Hill Pre-K to introduce new resources that will better protect their students — one of which is a new active shooter security system.

The system is a door locking device that comes with a window shield to stop active shooters from breaking down the door.

The new active shooter device installed at Ben Hill Pre-K was developed by Code Red Guard, a...
The new active shooter device installed at Ben Hill Pre-K was developed by Code Red Guard, a business in Ocilla.(WALB)

Creators of the device partnered with the school system to add an extra layer of protection. Phil Croft, chief operating deputy of Code Red Guard, said the non-electronic system will create a safe barrier between teachers, students and a potential threat.

“It’s time to launch it. We’re seeing a lot of bad things happen across our nation right now and there’s not a lot of protection behind that door for these students and teachers,” he said. “They’re the ones that’s needing to be protected when a perpetrator happens to come in this hallway.”

The security system also comes with a lock box that only teachers can access. Croft added that the simplicity of the device will save time when responding to an emergency.

“It’s an easy one slide and it’s locked down,” he said.

The window shield is designed to lock on the inside to prevent active shooters from getting in...
The window shield is designed to lock on the inside to prevent active shooters from getting in by breaking the glass.(WALB)

The new security device has not only brought changes to the school system’s protocols. Ben Hill County Sheriff Lee Cone said active shooting training is done every year. But this year, they’ll be training with the new device.

He also said first responders’ approach to an active shooter lockdown will be changed.

“In the past was when the first officer that got there waited on someone else to get there before you would enter a building. That’s no longer the training. The training now, you get there you go in and you go to the threat and that’s what we’re planning on doing,” he said.

Cone said the next active shooter training will be hosted in July.
Cone said the next active shooter training will be hosted in July.(WALB)

Cone said these changes are being done with one thing in mind.

“We don’t want nothing to happen in our schools and if it does hopefully, we can keep it down to where there’s no one hurt,” he said.

Thorpe’s little girl’s first day of school is in the fall and he said he feels more comfortable sending his child to school knowing the new system is installed.

“This new security system that they have installed here, it may not stop everything, but it’s at least something to hinder any further damage that may possibly occur,” he said.

The creators of the new security system said they’re not just looking to protect Ben Hill County Schools. They want to also bring it to schools across the state.

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