Safety in State: Free State Increases Security Presence to Tighten Measures

Firebirds are adjusting to new safety practices established by the security team, but the reasoning behind their improvements is widely unknown.

Gabriella Kellison and Stella Mosier

Since the beginning of the school year, the security team, Student Resource Officers [SRO], and administration have been implementing numerous new surveillance measures and precautions.

These include two security monetization desks at both ends of the 200s hallway, mandatory check-in when returning from off-campus lunches, as well as an increased number of security guards spaced throughout the building. 

Lunch time check-in has been a big change for students this year. Security aims to use this precaution to ensure the safety of students. 

Our first goal is to make sure the students are safe,” security officer Chris Goulter said. “Everything else is secondary.” 

The goal of the new security enforcements is to provide a more safe, controlled, and transparent environment. Therefore, students’ whereabouts have become an important piece of information that administrators need to have access to. The lunch check-in and new security monetization desks both provide access to this information. 

Along with lunch check-in, the security desks  are the one of the more evident additions to the security team, yet many are unaware of the reason for their use. 

“I think having the security stations in the commons and on the east side of the school have helped quite a bit this year,” Goulter said. “Having us in those locations and creating a consistent presence has done a lot to quiet down those areas, which were some of the worst last year.” 

Since last year’s attendance complications due to ILT, security has prioritized keeping Free State peaceful as well as safe. 

“What we tried to do was curb access to the building for people who weren’t supposed to be here… It’s a deterrent,” Student Resource Officer Wiltz said.

Given the recent threats of violence towards the student body, being able to keep track of what’s going on within the building has become increasingly prioritized to further ensure students’ safety, and the security desks give staff the ability to easily keep tabs on the building. 

Although there have been many physical and procedural changes to security this year, the SRO’s and security officer’s mission remains the same.

“As a school resource officer, my function is to protect the students, first and foremost,” Officer Witz said.  “Secondly, I’m here to build relationships and highlight that police can be seen in a positive environment.” 

Although the security team says the changes have been put in place for the benefit of students, some students feel that security staff and officers have not made this point clear enough. 

“It’s weird to have someone who’s trained as a police officer just chillin’ in your school building,” senior Solie Edison said. “The SRO’s can make people feel uncomfortable and that’s a situation that needs to be addressed.”

 Despite the uncertainty of some students, the security staff believes they have decided to further dedicate themselves to the betterment and safety of the environment. And the first step may be  to uphold high standards of protection and make meaningful connections with the student body.  

Although the idea of a trained officer in the building may feel strange to Edison and other students, he does understand the need for precaution. 

“I think that in the world we live in, it’s never a bad thing to take precaution, and it’s never a bad thing to be proactive, especially when it comes to student safety,” Edison said. “Everybody deserves to be in an environment where they feel safe.”