Oconee County Schools is an early adopter of technology that protects students, employees and visitors in all 11 schools in the event of an active threat.

Using a $330,000 state grant for school safety enhancements, the school system has purchased software from a company called Centegix and an alert badge for every staff member, including substitute teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers.

With multiple clicks of a button on the badge, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, school administrators and district leaders will be notified of the exact location of an imminent threat, which could include an active shooter.

After the button on the badge has been pressed, beacon lights will flash in classrooms and hallways to initiate a lockdown within seconds. Students will hear an intercom message to “Avoid, deny, defend” as desktop computers will be taken over with the alert. While this is happening, law enforcement will be en route.

“All of us will get alert on phones or mobile data terminals in patrol cars,” said Capt. James Hale of the Oconee Sheriff’s Office, who explained that with designated patrol districts, there is a deputy within minutes of each school at any given time.

“Deputies need short and concise information in a split second,” he said. “The quicker we can arrive on the scene, the quicker we can stop bad things from happening, and the better off we will be in the long run.”

OCS officials tested the crisis alert system at Oconee County Middle School last Friday. Throughout the month, each school will experience a lockdown drill.

For more on this story, see the Aug. 22 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 

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