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SPECIAL REPORT: New School Security Measures Unveiled For the Fall

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. - In the wake of school shootings across the country, districts in our region are beefing up security to protect students.

It's something that's on the mind of every parent.

What if a mass shooting happened in our backyard?

As back to school season creeps closer, the nelson's Northwest Arkansas home is anything but quiet. 

But it's more than buying new supplies and an earlier bed time.

"It's not fun," Anna Nelson said. "There is no joking about it." 

Anna Nelson sits with her girls to talk about the "What ifs".

"When I was their age we never even had to worry," Nelson said. "We never had to have these conversations like that. It just never was a concern." 

Because once her kids walk out that door, the trust begins. 

Steve Vera is the Bentonville School District's security director. 

He's studied safety inside school walls for almost 20 years. 

His goal for the 2018 school year - to take his twenty two campuses from safe to safer.  

The first watchful eye begins the moment you step on campus. 

This year all elementary and middle schools will have an audio - video surveillance system. 

"It gives our people in the office just some time to see who this person is," Security Director Steve Vera said. 

But the guest won't get very far initially. 

"The second set of doors also always remains locked so then the visitor has to go in through the office door to check in," Vera said. 

Also beginning in August...lockdown drills for students and staff will take place once a month, high school students will be required to wear ID badges, and security officers on campus will carry a firearm.

This is a controversial debate, but a decision Vera is convinced will keep Bentonville from becoming a target. 

"Sixteen years as a resource officer I knew I wanted to work some of these security measures into the district already," Vera said. 

Twenty miles south, another school district is putting heads together. 

Back in march, Fayetteville created a school safety task force to open the dialogue between law enforcement, lawmakers, and educators. 

At the head of the committee..Superintendent Dr. John L. Colbert and Police Chief Greg Tabor. 

"We are not sitting back and doing nothing," Chief Greg Tabor said. 

"We always know that we have room for improvement and should always evaluate and revisit any plan," Dr. John L. Colbert said. 

Chief Tabor says he's seen police strategy change in his 33 years in uniform. 

"In present day, even if you are the only officer there it's your soul job to go and locate the shooter instead of waiting on backup," Chief Tabor said. 

Dr. Colbert adds physical barriers aren't enough. 

"We are going to have a team approach to address the issues early to hopefully catch anything before it happens," Dr. Colbert said. 

A promise all parents like Nelson hope doesn't get broken. 

"They are just everything to me," Nelson said. 
 


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