|Schools officials have installed a high-tech scanner in the lobby of Brockton High School to step up security at the massive campus that saw the shooting of a local man on the steps of its gymnasium two years ago as well as a stabbing inside the main building last year.
Brockton High is one of 13 schools and businesses across the state to install LobbyGuard, a small, free-standing kiosk that scans a visitor’s driver’s license. The device runs the information through the national sex offender registry and an internal list of data from families and the courts about who can, and can’t, have access to students.
Next month, officials will review how the tool has performed; if it’s lived up to expectations, officials say they plan to use a $485,000 federal Safe and Secure Schools grant to buy a dozen more such scanners for Brockton’s alternative and middle schools.
At the sprawling Brockton High campus, one of the largest in the state, exterior lighting upgrades, surveillance cameras, and interior and exterior door locks are also part of the security improvements. Students and staff are also continually reminded to keep school entrances and exits closed for maximum safety, officials said.
“It used to be that all the doors were wide open,’’ said Lieutenant Don Mills, a longtime city police officer who now oversees the school district’s seven-person police department.
It took an incident at Dartmouth High School a couple decades ago, in which an intruder entered the building and killed a student, to wake everyone up, officials said.
The trend toward tighter security kicked into high gear for Brockton in 2009 with the shooting that cast the high school into the local and national spotlight.
In Massachusetts, LobbyGuard scanners have also been installed at the Woburn, Milford, Haverhill, and North Andover public schools; Northeastern University; Berkshire Life Insurance; Whittier Regional Vocational School; the British School of Boston; Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School; Greater Lawrence Regional Technical High School; Boston Renaissance Charter School; and Montachusett Regional Vocational School.
Mills said introducing technology like LobbyGuard “is an attempt at being proactive and a deterrent for unnecessary school visits.’’
It also ensures that visits that are necessary - like a parent picking up a child, or a vendor making a milk delivery - are controlled, he said.
Brockton’s school police force works 16 hours a day, seven days a week, covering 24 square miles including the distance between the 23 buildings and the range of academic and extracurricular activities that are conducted in them, Mills said.
Three vacant police positions are in the process of being filled.
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