IRVING, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – North Lake College in Irving might be considered one of the most high-tech campuses in North Texas — partly because of
It was covered in chaos after a man with a gun walked onto campus killing 20-year-old student Janeera Nickol Gonzalez.
You can see the exact spot it happened on one of the thousands of new motion-sensored cameras. They are among major security changes at the seven main and 20 satellite campuses.
“They have those analytic features on them,” says Dallas College Police Chief Lauretta Hill.
“A red dot indicates motion,” she explained. A green box identifies analytics, such as a car or a person.
Chief Hill and her officers track the cameras in their new on-campus command center and on their phones.
Just around the corner in the command center, Chief Hill points to another device the campus’ new upgraded IT system allows officers to access on their phones.
“We call it our one button lockdown,” explained Hill. A large red button sits under an acrylic case on the wall. The device triggers an audio and cell phone alert, and it secures all the exterior doors of the campus.
“Parents out there need to be actively involved and engaged in their schools.”
Standing out of a main building, the Chief says, “Exterior doors to this campus would lock down and the only people that could override that would be the police department that would have to use an access key card to get in.” That key card is another safety feature now on their cell phones.
Chief Hill believes it may be the answer for many new safety measures.
“We want this to be a tool.”
The “tool” gives students a safety button at their fingertips.
The chief mentioned the old blue light emergency boxes typically seen on college campuses. They contain a button to alert authorities and signal danger. Hill got rid of those.
“Let’s get everybody on this platform because this is the future of safety,” as she pointed to her phone.
Through the app, students can immediately connect 911, discreetly contact police, or ask campus dispatch for a virtual by sharing their locations.
As we tour, Hill points out that not all the improvements here would cost other districts millions. She understands budget is often a concern.
TRAINING AND DRILLS
Chief Hill increased the amount of training and the number of drills for staff, students and officers.
There “absolutely wasn’t enough,” Hill said emphatically.
A sign with a list of emergency drills hangs outside a physics classroom door. Chief Hill expects her students to read these. She said she doesn’t want anyone taken off guard.
The sign explains the emergency procedures at North Lake for everything from an active shooter to a weather event.
She hopes, in case of an emergency, these signs and their muscle memories will remind students how to proceed and help save lives.
Chief Hill reorganized the colleges’ police departments becoming the one person who oversees all its properties.
Although officers responding the crisis at Robb Elementary have been criticized for lack of command, Chief Hill said either she, or the highest-ranking officer on the scene, would take over in the case of an emergency. She said confusion on command will not exists.
“If I’m physically not here, the person that’s on scene is in charge,” says Hill explaining her back-up plan; however, she said she ultimately takes all responsibility.
“I’m responsible and accountable.”
And, Chief Hill is also “hopeful” that she inspires other law enforcement and parents to ask for these features and question their fears.
“It’s very important for us to be active in the security of whatever location that are our kids go to school,” explained Chief Hill, who said she is talking to both law enforcement as well as parents.
“It’s an audience for both!” said Chief Hill.
Chief Hill said the eight changes discussed are just a few of the recommendations from a Dallas College security audit conducted after the 2017 shooting.
Since the Uvalde shooting, many administrators and officers have shared a common message with the I-Team:
Parents should speak up and don’t hesitate to ask questions about the security at your child’s school.