District 99 is introducing several new security enhancements at North High School and South High School in Downers Grove, all of which will be in place when the school year begins on August 17, 2018.
“Our community has made it clear that making our schools safer is a top priority,” says District 99 Superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele. “In addition to making structural and technology upgrades, we are also hiring two highly trained former law enforcement personnel to work alongside the Downers Grove Police Department School Resource Officers in each school. Like the Resource Officers, our Lead Security Officers will be armed to increase our level of protection.”
Security enhancements include:
- Adding two new, full-time and armed “Lead Security Officers.” The officers, one at North High and one at South High, will oversee building security and personnel.
- Russ Rau, a retired Downers Grove Police Officer with 29 years of service, will be Lead Security Officer - North High. Previously he served as a School Resource Officer at both North High and South High; he is also a community member and current District 99 parent.
- Dan Niemann, a retired Des Plaines and Vernon Hills Police Officer with 29 years of service, will be Lead Security Officer - South High. He has served as a commander, sergeant, detective, tactical officer and field training officer.
Both Rau and Niemann have passed rigorous background and reference checks, as well as psychological screenings.
- Reconfiguring the front entrances at both North High and South High. At the main entrances of both schools, pass-through windows will allow school personnel to screen visitors prior to allowing entrance into the buildings. This is the first phase in reinforcing the entrance structures; permanent secured vestibules are in the process of being designed and built as part of the Master Facility Plan and will be in place in the future.
- Adding a new Rapid Emergency Response System. Inside both buildings, blue police alarm pull-stations, similar to red fire alarm pull-stations, are being added strategically throughout the schools. When the alarm is activated, police first responders are immediately notified, loudspeakers throughout the buildings broadcast emergency information, and strobe lights are activated both inside and outside the building. In addition to North High and South High, the system will be installed at the Transition 99 Center.
- Launching a new internal system application for staff. The third-party application, called “CrisisGo,” allows staff members to communicate electronically with the internal safety team and local law enforcement during a crisis situation and to share critical, real-time information. In addition to reporting their safety status, staff members can also take and report student attendance in the case of an emergency using the application. The application also includes detailed safety plan protocols and building maps for convenient staff access.
- Installing safety and security film in strategic locations. We are installing a safety and security film to cover select door entryways. The one-way film will allow students and others who are inside to see outside, but block those outside from seeing into the building. This will reduce the possibility of someone outside the school from gaining entry without being screened properly, and encourage visitors always to use the main entrance before entering our buildings.
“We believe these important improvements complement and reinforce our safety practices, and will give our students, staff and families an even greater sense of safety inside our buildings,” says Dr. Thiele.