School Insecurity: DeSoto County Schools, Part 2 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

School Insecurity: DeSoto County Schools, Part 2

For the third part of our hidden camera investigation into school security in the Mid-South, we traveled to DeSoto County, Mississippi.

Officials at DeSoto County Schools are convinced their system is safe, and said Robert Laird, Director of School Safety for the Mississippi Department of Education, can back them up.

"I would love for my daughter to go to the school system," he said.

Action News 5's Jason Miles showed Laird what we found in our exclusive undercover investigation.  Half of the six DeSoto County Schools we randomly selected failed our test.  An Action News Five producer, armed with a hidden camera, was free to roam freely without being confronted by school personnel.

"You're never going to get one hundred percent full security at any institution, to include a prison," Laird said.

At Horn Lake Elementary, the doors to a inner hallway were locked, but our staffer got around that by walking through an office where another door was wide open.  No one was in the office to stop her.

"You have identified some weak areas within their response parameters," Laird said.

Laird was confident our staffer would not have roamed much longer without being challenged, suggesting we were a bit sneaky.

But that was the point.  Who's to say someone sinister would not try the same thing?

"There's always a way to get around any school security that's made if a person is going to make the effort," Laird said.

In the meantime, Laird said DeSoto County Schools are doing all the right things, considering their disciplinary history and community make-up.  Right now, the majority of schools are not required to have metal detectors or school resource officers.

 "You're justified in having an overall lower level of security than you would at a school in an urban area and a high-crime situation," he said.

Laird considered our undercover investigation merely a snapshot, not a broad reflection of the job DeSoto County Schools are doing on a daily basis.

The Mississippi Department of Education assesses every school system, including their security.  Laird put DeSoto County Schools at the top of the list, and said he hopes they stay there.

Click here to send an email to Jason Miles.

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