Petal schools enhance campus security

Petal schools enhance campus security

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - The Petal School District implemented a new security system this school year that indicates when a registered sex offender attempts to gain access to any Petal school.

The Raptor visitor management system utilizes public databases by checking all school visitors against national sexual offender databases. When a visitor checks in with the front office staff, identification must be presented for the school official to scan. When the scan is complete, information will appear to the school official that alerts them whether the person is a sex offender.

If the scan is clear, a photo badge will print out for the visitor to wear to their destination. However, if a scan comes back positive, a silent alarm is sent to the school resource officer and school administration.

"I know every parent out there is just as proud as I am for having the extra layer of security because you don't want anyone around your children that's not supposed to be," said parent Cheslena Sanford.

Petal superintendent Dr. Matt Dillon said there was not a specific incident that pushed the school district to implement the safety system, rather "another proactive measure" the district is taking to keep children safe.

"We do have a buzzing in to every building before you can gain access to buildings, but now you'll go through this process before you gain access to students or to faculty and staff," said Dillon.

Petal resource officer Mitch Nobles said it not only tracks offenders but is also a tool for increasing awareness of who is on campus at all times.

"In the event of a crisis or emergency, we have a better understanding of who's inside of our buildings," he said.

The Raptor system uses a database that consists of registered sex offenders from 50 states and only scans the visitor's name, date of birth and photo.

When there are large events at the school, alternative entry will be allowed. Appropriate identification includes state ID, drivers license, military ID, United States passport or Mexican consulate card. The visitor's name and date of birth can be entered into the system if there is no photo identification.