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U.S. Rep. John Barrow proposes panic buttons for schools

Monday, July 1, 2013 12:31 PM
Last updated 7:33 PM
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Eight months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., U.S. Rep. John Barrow pushed Monday for support of his legislation that would install panic buttons in schools to alert police of danger.

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U.S. Rep. John Barrow speaks at a news conference at the Richmond County Board of Education office about legislation he has introduced to increase school safety. Looking on Monday was Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
U.S. Rep. John Barrow speaks at a news conference at the Richmond County Board of Education office about legislation he has introduced to increase school safety. Looking on Monday was Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

During a news conference at the Richmond County Board of Education, Barrow said he wants to reauthorize a $30 million matching grant program that was created under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 but lapsed in 2009.

The legislation, introduced last week in House Bill 2583, would amend outstanding bylaws of the grant to include “acquisition and installation of technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency.”

At the moment, Barrow said, the bill is gridlocked in the House of Representatives and would take an “active Congress to get it passed.” He rallied for support from his district Monday.

“What we need above all else is to improve response time so that the good guys can respond as quickly as possible,” said the 12th District Democrat. “Time is precious, and the difference between life and death is that minutes costs lives.”

First and Second Amendment advocates pointed fingers in response to the Sandy Hook shootings, but Barrow said he toured his district to visit with sheriffs, police officers and emergency workers to gain input on a possible solution.

He said one of the most constructive ideas came from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office recommended installing a “panic button” in schools that would override 911 communications and send an alert straight to the cellphones and dispatch radios of law enforcement officers in the area when an assailant is on the loose.

The idea, which Barrow hopes to have funded between 2014 and 2018, has received endorsements from the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the American Association of School Administrators.

“We support this wholeheartedly,” Sheriff Richard Roundtree said on behalf of his staff and sheriffs statewide, which at its annual convention this year discussed panic buttons as a possible way to improve school safety. “We constantly train for tornadoes, fires and natural disasters, yet in the past 50 years that has not been a significant problem in our schools. In recent years, it has been more than a dozen school shootings that have compromised school safety.”

The “silent alerts,” as Barrow termed them, could be deployed in a variety of ways, but many institutions, such as courthouses and legislative office buildings, choose to employ a centrally located button that can be triggered by anyone at any time when a threat arises.

Under the reauthorized program, communities and schools would apply for the Secure Our Schools grants through the Department of Justice, with federal resources matched by local governments.

Richmond County Superintendent Frank Roberson applauded Barrow’s efforts and said he was “very pleased” with the legislation.

“There are three institutions in our society the safety of which cannot be compromised: the home, the school and the church,” Roberson said. “Unfortunately in this day in age, we cannot assume that either will always be safe. We have to put measures in place to ensure their safety.”

Comments (28) Add comment
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Truth Matters
8084
Points
Truth Matters 07/01/13 - 12:43 pm
3
7
Safety

A proactive plan; makes sense to me.

Dixieman
17266
Points
Dixieman 07/01/13 - 01:40 pm
12
2
$30 million from the taxpayers for this?

As the story noted, 911 is already available -- and anyone can call. Only a few people in the school would have access to the panic button and they would probably forget the combination or lose the key, whereas LOTS of people in the school can call 911. Not needed. Another Federal boondoggle. I'd rather keep my money, thanks.

follower
92
Points
follower 07/01/13 - 01:19 pm
7
0
Sounds like a lot of money

Sounds like a lot of money just to push two less buttons. 911

Yep, took almost a whole second more.

corgimom
38278
Points
corgimom 07/01/13 - 02:09 pm
3
1
If it's any place that it's

If it's any place that it's easy to access, a kid WILL push the button. Over and over and over again.

As Dixieman said, it would have to be secured- which defeats the whole purpose. 911 would be easier.

When the panic button would be used, the first thing that would happen is that the 911 dispatcher would call the school.

my.voice
5160
Points
my.voice 07/01/13 - 02:46 pm
7
0
Sure, a nice red button will

Sure, a nice red button will solve this. In this age of technology practically up your nose, I see little benefit of a panic button. Simply put, if a 911 call doesn't work, a button probably wont either. But by all means, lets spend a ba-gillion dollars researching it.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 07/01/13 - 03:00 pm
3
3
Cheap solutions tend to be problematic.

But will give him credit, at least he is trying to find a realistic solution instead being a knee jerk political opportunist with an Anti-Gun agenda.

Logically no 1 cookie cutter solution will work for every school in the USA.

Just look at our local schools and show me 2 that are constructed the same, have the same floor plans and have the same number of access points?

Our American schools for too long have been little more than welcome centers. We need to redesign all future buildings with some concept of student protection in a clear frame of mind.

We need to start thinking:
Limited access points with alarms.

No more at the door to door drop off points for mom and the kids and for a car bomber to use. Make the kids walk a 1/2 block.

Controlled lobby area access with shatterproof glass and some concrete posts to keep a person from crashing into the lobby.

A panic alarm that automatically secures the school.

Metal doors with locks for each classroom.

Classrooms that have secured panic rooms with a 15 min. deterrent
time.

These are just some of the things that we do to protect politicians, federal workers and etc....

Are our kids worth any less?

Because what we have seen so far is nothing compared to what can be done, if a terrorist team of 4 gain access to a school with 300 students.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 07/01/13 - 02:58 pm
5
2
I like the basic idea

... but the button should be on the teacher, like the "I've fallen and can't get up," variety, rather than fixed in a classroom. That way, a teacher in the hall or parking lot or anywhere on the grounds could trigger an alarm, eliminating some little chucklehead setting off false alarms.

But $30,000 ,000.00?

Darby
29192
Points
Darby 07/01/13 - 03:53 pm
9
0
"A proactive plan; makes sense to me."

Not to me! It sounds just dumb and suspiciously like a politician posturing for his next reelection campaign.

There are already about a gazillion cell phones out there and they work fast and don't waste taxpayer money.

Just look at who is patting this guy on the back and the political ramifications quickly become clear. I guess you could call this a "comprehensive" vote buying scheme.

It's not about safety, it's about creating the perception of a proactive politician. In the meantime, buying votes with taxes. (Gee, that's never been done before.)

I know, lets raise the thirty million $$ with a big new tax on cell phones. Eliminate the existing solution and fund the boondoggle at the same time.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 07/01/13 - 04:22 pm
0
0
The ONLY
Unpublished

time I'll ever agree with barrow on any subject.

Little Lamb
48882
Points
Little Lamb 07/01/13 - 05:51 pm
4
0
Easy

my.voice is spot on! If all you want is a button, Staples has plenty of those red Easy Buttons they will give the schools.

Darby
29192
Points
Darby 07/01/13 - 08:05 pm
4
0
You know Lamb, I tried pushing one of

those Easy Buttons. Nothing happened!

Do you think I'm just not qualified, or maybe I just need some training.

Dixieman
17266
Points
Dixieman 07/01/13 - 07:48 pm
2
1
to dstewartsr

Give the buttons to the teachers and they will lose them, forget them, leave them in their cars, put them in a drawer, or they will be stolen and abused by the students. Everyone has a cell phone today and it is so easy to dial 911 on them. It just ain't worth $30 million to add a less useful communication link.

allhans
24858
Points
allhans 07/01/13 - 07:55 pm
3
0
30 million dollars...yikes,

30 million dollars...yikes, all those years at the bank and I never knew how much that little thingy cost.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 07/01/13 - 07:57 pm
2
2
Buttons
Unpublished

I have a button on my pistol, when I press it an alarm goes off that the "cause" of my alarm can hear but, only for a brief moment. No one has to do anything else other than cart the carcass off. Allow teachers and staff their civil right to personal protection, now. If the "cause of alarm" suspects even one member is armed they will not bother the school. This will not cost a dime, I will pay for each bullet used to stop a "cause of alarm" by anyone in any school.

Darby
29192
Points
Darby 07/01/13 - 08:09 pm
4
1
"...yikes, all those years at the bank and

I never knew how much that little thingy cost."

.
One small difference. The one at the bank was paid for out of profits.

This bozo wants you and me and our kids and grandkids to pay for the one he has in mind.

Darby
29192
Points
Darby 07/01/13 - 08:12 pm
1
1
If he manages to push this thing through

....let's name the bill "Barrow's Folly".

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 07/01/13 - 08:15 pm
2
0
"I have a button on my pistol..."

Yeah. Talk about a no-go and non-starter for school.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 07/01/13 - 08:23 pm
2
0
"...and it is so easy to dial 911..."

Oh yes, that worked out SOOOO well in Conneticut. At least he's trying to come up with something better. Nothing like a terrified teacher huddled in a classroom with crying children while a gunman is stalking outside; whispering to the 911 operator your birthday and what colour shoes you're wearing before she'll pass on the call to the cops.

911; yeah, that's the ticket!

Little Lamb
48882
Points
Little Lamb 07/01/13 - 09:20 pm
2
0
Barrow Button

Darby posted:

You know Lamb, I tried pushing one of those Easy Buttons. Nothing happened! Do you think I'm just not qualified, or maybe I just need some training?

The Barrow Buttons are guaranteed to work. After all, the government provided them, and the government can always be trusted.

Darby
29192
Points
Darby 07/01/13 - 10:42 pm
2
0
"the government can always be trusted"

True Lamb... How could I have forgotten that??

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/02/13 - 12:14 am
0
3
My wife the teacher...

...could easily sneak a gun into school to do harm, if she intended to do so.

IF she wants to have one in the event she NEEDS it to fight back against an armed intruder...she is S>O>L. (SHOOT OUTTA LUCK)

Offer the school professionals who want it defensive firearms training, then get the %^$#@!X out of their way. You know...the way that private business owners have that SAME RIGHT.

Radwaste
420
Points
Radwaste 07/02/13 - 04:23 am
2
2
Wrong problem, guys.

The majority of school crimes are by the thugs sent there by parents.

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 07/02/13 - 06:57 am
2
0
Dial 911 and die

The police are not and cannot be everywhere for everybody. And additionally, I'm not sure that would be a good thing even if we could do that. People need to be allowed to take responsibility for themselves and that includes dealing with deadly intent at least for a limited time. We have hundreds of thousands of citizens who legally carry a firearm everyday and provide a level of "herd immunity" against crime that few appreciate. Schools are no different. Schools do not need to be fortified anymore than grocery stores or shopping centers. Buttons don't work when you are face to face with death. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 07/02/13 - 07:13 am
2
0
Based on the all the negative

Based on the all the negative votes on my above comment,
either some dislike the idea of:

* their kids walking in the school gate instead of being dropped off at the front door,

* securing the schools,

* Securing the classroom

* or is it the facing the political ramifications that as Social Democrats their party tried to use the last school shootings to further the GUN CONTROL agenda, instead addressing the School safety?

Everyone does understand at every mass nut job killing in the last 30 years. That Law Enforcement only arrived after the nut job was done a majority or all of his work, or had blown his own brains out.

What do all of the mass murders have in common?
They were all mental cases, or had documented excessive hostility, mental issues. But no family member, friend or doctor treating them reported them.

An it wasn't just guns, some also had and used swords, baseball bats with nails, knives, pipe bombs, and other items also.

As UN PC as it sounds,
Mentally Sick People that are a threat to society need to be locked up after being evaluated be 3 independent doctors agreeing. An not released until they are deem safe by a independent panel of doctors.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 07/02/13 - 07:13 am
2
0
Running the numbers.using :

Running the numbers.

using : http://www.edreform.com/2012/04/k-12-facts/

$30,000,000 ($30 mill)
TOTAL NUMBER OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 98,706
------------------------------------
$303.93 per school.

From a Federal Spending stand point that is what a roll of toilet tissues or a hammer, costs the taxpayers.

Given normal Federal cost overruns and etc...lets call it $600 per school .

This is still less than the $50M IRS wasted on party trips.

This is $1,000,000,000,000 ($1T) less than National Health care costs penalties.

This is less than the VP's Hotel Bills.

seenitB4
97019
Points
seenitB4 07/02/13 - 07:18 am
2
0
A panic button ??

Hah...when I first read that I thought they meant a button to get help from unruly kids....NOW that would make sense.....but nocnoc is right....we have danger in our classrooms from people with mental disorders....but we brush that under the rug..crazy crazy world.

corgimom
38278
Points
corgimom 07/02/13 - 08:07 am
0
2
We have danger everywhere

We have danger everywhere from mentally deranged individuals, it's not just schools. You aren't safe anywhere from a crazy.

They have rampaged all over. Those nutcases aren't worried about being shot; they just want to kill people.

Having an armed person in a school won't stop them, either.

to tell the truth1
210
Points
to tell the truth1 07/02/13 - 08:55 am
0
0
Congressional Legislation

Congressman Barrow and the rest of the Congressional body needs to pass legislation QUICK to change the Social Security law payment schedule for recipients that are receiving benefits that have mortgage payments. People are getting evicted and losing their homes!

Truth Matters
8084
Points
Truth Matters 07/02/13 - 10:49 am
0
0
Panic button

Looks like Barrow pushed the panic button here!
Just give teachers a gun instead. You know, those same union teachers that many on this page deride for not being very bright. Why in the world would anyone want to put a gun in their hands?

Are there problems with children pressing the current panic buttons that are connected to the school's front office? I have not heard of any so I don't think little Johnny is going to necessarily become fixated on one that is connected to 911 call center.

Truth Matters
8084
Points
Truth Matters 07/02/13 - 10:52 am
0
0
Ask the NRA

Ask the NRA to help bankroll the price tag. It's the least they can do for blocking sensible gun control. And they have the money. Let's see them make good on their concern for the children's safety.

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