LAKEVILLE, Minn. — Now that kids are back in school, sadly, so are the concerns over school violence. There's a district in the south metro taking a new approach to security and other districts are taking notice.
"We are first and foremost focused on how do we have a layered approach to safety and security?" says Lakeville Area Schools Superintendent, Michael Baumann.
The district has made this a priority from the superintendent, to the school board, to the public. In 2019 they passed a levy and bond referendum that helped add an additional school resource officer to the middle schools, they set up an anonymous reporting system, and added a psychologist to handle threat assessments.
"We know that the kids that have been active shooters have had struggles and at some point, maybe if someone would have intervened in a different way, maybe we could have headed that off, and I do feel in our district that we've had numerous situations over the last few years that we've made an impact on kids,” says Renae Ouillette, Executive Director of Student Services in Lakeville.
Reality is, not all threats get caught in time. So, Lakeville went one step further. They partnered with Minnesota-based 3D response systems.
“We understand that prevention is the most important piece and to develop those relationships with people in your building is the most important thing you can do. Now if one slips through the cracks, like this school of 1,500 kids, which is very possible, then our system comes into play to keep as many people as safe as we possibly can,” says Jason Polinski with 3D Response Systems.
3D Response Systems is a multi-layered design, to get the police there faster and provide tools for the people inside to survive. The company was started by police, firefighters, educators, and parents. It takes the active shooter training - run, hide, fight - and adds three things they say makes it more effective, cover, concealment and communication.
"Cover is something that is going to protect you from something like a bullet. Concealment is something that I can't see you so you're concealed and communication is constant active communication to keep you in the know during a high-stress situation,” says Polinski.
Almost all of it is out of sight so you don't lose the feel of a teaching space. The only visible signs are the police buttons on the wall in every room in every building.
“You simply push a button, and when you push the button, you've sent a text message to dispatch that says police needed in room 102 Lakeville North High School. And each room, when they hit their button, a new text message will be sent,” he says.
“It also activates 1,200 pounds of magnetic pressure on the door, so you get a nice tight seal on that door, you're not going to get through that door. And lastly, it sets off the alert system both inside and outside the school, so classroom 102 can alert people in the gym on the other side of the school that somethings going on over here,” Polinski adds.
Hidden ballistic panels can be pulled out of walls if needed. And cameras help the officers responding get to where the threat is faster.
“That's part of the communication piece that comes in so the teachers know exactly where the intruder is, and when the first officer arrives, they can talk to the officer and say, “he's on the third floor by room 302,” so you can minimize the time it takes that officer to get to the place he needs to be,” says Polinski.
Lakeville has installed the system in both high schools and is working its way through every school in the district. A system they hope they never have to use, but having it is peace of mind, because just hoping it never happens isn't a solution.