Campus Crime: DeSoto County invests millions in safety - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Campus Crime: DeSoto County invests millions in safety

A $140-million building program will allow the Desoto County School District to build eight new schools and renovate older facilities.

Part of the money is being spent to bring security up to speed.

A crowd control plan at Southaven High School clears the campus of 1500 students in about 5 minutes.

"You know we get out the crowds thats when situations can occur and we try to alleviate that by not having any," said Southaven High School principal Jeff Gilder.

It's one of many safety measures in place at Desoto County Schools, a district that is currently investing $140 million to construct those eight new schools.

"The schools are laid out to where you can have a three hundred and 60 degree view from the outside you would have no blind corner so to speak built into these schools," said head of security Jim Caldwell.

Part of the money will be spent making sure every school in the district is equipped with the latest safety technology.  At Southaven High potential trouble spots are monitored in several ways.

"Most of our kids do a great job of maintaining themselves and that's from their parents secondly we have duty schedules where our teachers are always visible," said Gilder.

Surveillance cameras monitor activity inside and out.

The goal is to put video cameras like this one and a video tape in all Desoto County school buses most of them have one now and all the buses are equipped with 2-way radios.

A safe and drug free schools grant helps pay for police officers who are assigned to each Desoto County high school and middle school. Elementary schools share officers.

"Canines drug detectors explosive and gun detector dogs randomly check the schools," said Caldwell.

All district employees are finger-printed, even parents are put through a screening process.

"Anyone that's going to have any type of sustained contact with a student we're going to make sure that they're background checked," Caldwell said.

And most facilities are designed so that you can't gain access without going through the office.

But the most reliable eyes and ears monitoring safety belong to the students, who are taught to report crime or the threat of it on a special police hotline or on the county school website.

There are eight public schools in Southaven; in the last week police responded to 10 calls.  One student was arrested for fighting, another for theft, and one for possession of marijuana.

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