A new tool has been released that allows for the detection of dangers on school grounds, including protection from sexual predators.
The system, titled Raptor, has the capability to stop predators before they enter the school or come near students by scanning driver's licenses. The program is gaining popularity, currently being used in 13,000 schools across the country. To date, 15,000 registered sex offenders have already been flagged and kept off of school grounds.
The technology, in use in 23 districts in Massachusetts, has been used by Plymouth Public Schools for a year, reports Elizabeth Hopkins for MyFOX Boston. It requires all parents, staff and visitors to the school to receive clearance each time they walk inside a school. After being buzzed in, visitors must have their driver's licenses scanned to receive further access to the campus. That information is then scanned against the national database of registered sex offenders. After receiving clearance, a photo ID badge is administered that must be worn while on school grounds.
The system remembers who has been to the school before, so only one scan is necessary. When a visitor comes back a second or third time, they simply sign in and a visitor's pass is immediately printed out for them.
"It basically gives us a really good understanding of who comes into our building, we know who they are and there is a listing of exactly who they are," said Superintendent Gary Maestas.
If any red flags result from the scan, visitors are sent to the principal's office.
Davenport School District in Iowa has also begun to make use of the technology, reporting that they feel safer having everyone checked out before entering the building. Before utilizing the technology, visitors needed a background check before they could come on school grounds, reports Shelby Shepherd for KWQC.
In Rutherford County, Tennessee, the computer system has already been called a success after a registered sex offender was denied access to Brown's Chapel Elementary School during the lunch period, never making it past the front office on September 11, the day the school was celebrating Grandparent's Day.
Gilbert Johnson, 74, had come to the school to have lunch with his step-grandson. However, the system quickly picked up that he was a registered sex offender in the state of Florida, and he was denied entry to the school. The Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators' website states that Johnson had been convicted of child abuse in Maryland in 1999.
Although Johnson was held and interviewed by the SRO officer at the school, he was not arrested and was allowed to leave with his wife, the grandmother of the child. He had not told Polk County, Florida that he was traveling out of state, a requirement for registered sex offenders, reports Larry Flowers for WKRN.
The system comes with a setup cost of $1,600 for each school and an annual fee of $480. However, parents say a price cannot be put on their child's safety.