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New bill aims to mandate silent school safety alarms | #schoolsaftey


Scary situations at schools have become far too common across Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. At Hanover Area, officials are being proactive about school safety.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Scary situations at schools have become far too common across Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. School districts like Scranton, have recently beefed up security because of a rise in violence. 

This comes after a teenager was stopped carrying a rifle heading towards the school back in January. Just last month, a student was found with a gun in their backpack at the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center. 

“Every event that happened, they always say the same thing. They didn’t think it was going to happen here, right? So you have to have that mentality; it is going to happen here,” said Hanover Assistant Police Chief Eric Richardson.

At Hanover Area School District, officials are being proactive about keeping the hallways safe when minutes could matter most.

“We’re always a step behind when there is an event because the shooter knows, or the threat is here before we know it. It’s our job to catch up, so every second matters,” said Richardson.

The district has a safety line to 911 dispatch, and police in case of a crisis. It’s a system that may soon become mandatory for schools across Pennsylvania after legislation was introduced by state lawmakers. The bill is in response to the Parkland Shooting in Florida that killed 17 people in 2018. 

“To eliminate those seconds of a phone call, giving a description of what was going on. That could save multiple lives by just a push of this button,” said Hanover Area Superintendent Nathan Barrett. 

The button is a direct lifeline. Once pushed, it creates a silent alarm that immediately prompts a police response. It also opens up microphones within the building so first responders can hear what’s happening in real-time.

“When it’s engaged, they just start sending emergency responders. But they’re able to hear what’s going on in the building,” added Barrett. 

While they hope they’ll never have to use it, those on the first line of defense say it could help in times of crisis. 

“It could be a deterrent for people, thinking, ‘There are a lot of people here, there are armed guards, they have this button to push, there will be a quick response.’ So, I think it’ll be a good thing,” said retired State Trooper and School Safety Officer Deanna Piekanski.

As school districts work to combat this new era of school safety. 

“I feel like we’re a couple of steps ahead than a lot of districts are. I think that’s important. It’s an uncomfortable situation, an uncomfortable conversation sometimes, but it’s the reality, right? So, instead of having that conversation before an event, let’s have that conversation before the event even happens,” said Richardson.



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