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JIS News

In preparation for the new school year, the Safe Schools Secretariat is to spend some $350,000 to equip 10 schools across the island with panic buttons.The exercise, which has already begun, is expected to be completed within the first week of August, and will be extended to institutions outside of the Safe Schools Programme.
Speaking with JIS News, Chairman of the Safe Schools Secretariat, Lieutenant Colonel Oral Khan, explained that the panic buttons would better enable school officials to alert the police in the event of an emergency.
“There are going to be occasions when something will happen on the school compound and a quick response is needed from the security forces, so we are moving to install a mechanism that will alert them (police) early and also have a prior arrangement with them for a response when they are alerted,” he informed.
The use of the panic buttons, he said, would shorten the response time of the police to the school, which may not have an assigned School Resource Officer (SRO). It would also better equip security guards to protect school property, he noted.
“Outside of school hours, when SROs are not present, we have had vandalism on some properties, however, watchmen may not be able to respond and this [the panic button] will allow police response to those kinds of incidents,” he pointed out.
While only 10 schools are slated to benefit under the first phase of the project, Lieutenant Colonel Khan said that the Secretariat would not be able to outfit all institutions and has urged school administrators to consider installing panic buttons in their schools.
He further appealed to communities to play an active role in protecting schools, especially those located in volatile areas.
While not disclosing how the system would work, or the institutions that would benefit, Lieutenant Colonel Khan said they would include a number of boarding schools, which were not necessarily faced with violence, but would be equipped as a preventative measure.
To determine the number of panic buttons to be installed in a given school, the Colonel informed that an assessment must first be carried out by the service provider and the principal would determine the areas where the buttons were needed.