North Carolina Schools Use Friendly K-9, Color-Coded Alarm Lights, Metal Detectors

North Carolina Schools Use Friendly K-9, Color-Coded Alarm Lights, Metal Detectors

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has some new safety and security measures coming to district schools, including a German Shepherd, color-coded emergency lights and metal detectors.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools added new safety and security measures for the upcoming school year, including a German Shepherd who can sniff out firearms and automatic lockdowns.

The automatic lockdowns were installed as a way to quickly close off the school, preventing intruders from entering certain areas. The automatic lockdown will be triggered when a staff pushes a new panic alarm card. The cards will look like a regular ID badge, and administrators and CMS police department can instantly see the location of the person who activated the alarm.

The push will trigger voice warnings and color-coded flashing lights throughout the school. The colors will differ depending on the emergency situation, ranging from bad weather to an active shooter.

Earnest Winston is the district’s new superintendent, and knows that school security is a top priority after two fatal shootings at Butler High and UNC Charlotte, as well as a rising homicide rate in Charlotte.

"Charlotte East Language Academy is virtually the CMS beacon of what a school with enhanced security and safety measures look like," Winston said of the eastside K-8 school. "The beauty is that an individual would not be able to detect those measures with the naked eye."

Some of these measures include video surveillance targeting playgrounds and mobile classrooms, better locks, stronger doors and more staff trained to help students escape or even fight back if a shooter comes to school.

Speaking of shooters, the schools now have a friendly way to identify any guns that might illegally be brought into the school.

Nico is a two-year old German Shepherd who can sniff out firearms in bags. He started making rounds this summer, and will be coming to schools this fall. When Nico finds a gun, he doesn’t draw attention to the firearm by barking or whining. Instead, he sits when he encounters the smell of gunpowder.

The school will also use metal detectors to find weapons efficiently and quickly. CMS Police Chief Lisa Mangum said they began using two portable metal detectors this summer, and they were successful at eliminating time that usually would be taken up by wanding each student.

"They were very successful. It eliminated a lot of time,” Magnum said. “It was very quick, and it enabled us to not use the total number of staff that it normally requires when we are doing just wanding," she said.

In addition to all the security measures, there are nearly 60 counselors and social workers to help students work through conflict without violence.

About the Author

Kaitlyn DeHaven is the Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.