Hamilton Southeastern school safety plan involves police access

Police have access to each school building in the Hamilton Southeastern district.
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Undercover police officers are in local schools, part of a series of new and aggressive tactics to keep students safe.

It's a sneaky move, sneaking thru a security door even though it was buzzed open for somebody ahead of you.

It's one of the things schools now worry about.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools administrator Michael Beresford is thinking about the Sandy Hook school attack when he says, "As soon as it happened, I'm communicating with our local police. 'What can we do immediately?'"

Indiana schools were already teaching students to run, hide and - depending on age group - even fight back against an attacker in the building. Now they've found another key to safety.

Police with keys to the schools, which is the case at Hamilton Southeastern schools now, Fishers police are like one of the family.

Officers direct traffic at schools. If they have paperwork to do, they pull over and do it parked in a school parking lot - to be seen.

"Another idea came up, 'Well why don't we do roll call in the school?' When they go on shift they have roll call. Actually held it on the other side of this building," Beresford said.

Police are not just patrolling outside schools and walking the halls. Sometimes officers will come in plain clothes.

"Today, we did an audit of one of our elementary schools, sent a detective in plain clothes around the perimeter of the building to see if he could get in," said Lt. Michael Johnson.

He could not. After he got in with his police key, staff spotted him in about a minute. Also, all Fishers police learn the layout of all the school buildings.

"They have maps, they have video, everything they need," Beresford says, to handle an emergency at the schools.

One of the questions a computer asks guests as they sign in at Hoosier Road Elementary is the "Reason you are in the building today."

At some schools, visitors scan drivers' licenses and get a badge with their photo. If someone is seen without a badge in the school, they are taken to the office or police are called in.

Fishers police has four officers assigned to schools as resource officers. The district helps pay half their salaries.

But the schools are open to all officers. The key to school safety is the schoolhouse keys on their belts.