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New Security Measures Address Park City High School Entrances

Park City High School.
Park City School District
Park City High School.

The Park City School District hired an operations manager last year. A top priority for him is safety and security in all the schools. The elementary schools have fencing, and secure entries and progress continues with the secondary schools in the district.

Park City School District Chief Operations Officer Mike Tanner has officially been on the job since August. He came to Park City amidst overhauls of elementary school entrances and playground fencing.

“We can’t talk about all the measures, of course.  We don’t’ want  the bad guys defeating our countermeasures, but we do have secure vestibules which now kind of lock anybody from the outside from getting into the inside of our schools, along with a background check when folks walked in and present an ID. And we also have cameras in our facilities along with some other hardening devices throughout the schools that help us quite a bit and keeping the elementary school safe.”

Active shooter drills are done in the schools, but Tanner says they play it down because the chances of being shot in a school are slim and they’re watchful of the emotional impact lock-down drills can have on children.

"We're not trying to scare the kids, we’re simply trying to prepare them for the event that we do have a bad guy get into one of our buildings, how they can best keep themselves safe. Getting attacked in the school by an outside person is about as likely as getting struck by lightning twice in the same day. The outside threat while it exists is really not where the majority of the threat lives in most school incidents."

Tanner says the US Secret Service posted data that shows 80% of the threats occur from inside the school.

“Our dollars and our time we think are best spent in behavioral management, bullying prevention-type issues along with we started internal threat assessment and if we do have something that starts to emerge within the school, we have a methodical way of addressing that problem and getting the child the help that they need.”

Treasure Mountain Junior High students frequently take classes at the high school. Tanner says the security committee was put in place in September and the top priority was to address student’s moving between the schools safely. They’ve also investigated past practices of students using unsecured entries because there are so many doors at the high school. He says by next school year students will funnel through just three entries where they’ll install advanced security measures to detect weapons.

“And so, we have a number of measures that we are in the process of putting in place now. I'm not at liberty to discuss those but to help secure that pathway between the two locations and there's also some things that we're looking at. A beta test for some advanced scanning for potential weapons being brought into the school in the future so that beta test will be going on, we think March or April."

Tanner says there are sophisticated countermeasures they’re considering that would use scanning technologies at entrances  and artificial intelligence to monitor behavior.

He says the district believes it’s most efficient and cost effective to look at behavioral management, bullying prevention type issues. They’ve also implemented an internal threat assessment plan to identify problems early and get children the help they need before it escalates to violence.


KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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