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April 21, 2010

Floyd Central beefs up security, checking each visitor to the national sex offender registry

FLOYD COUNTY — Those wanting to visit Floyd Central High School better have their state issued identification available and ready, not just to prove who they are, but to see if they are a registered sex offender.

The Raptor’s V-soft system, which was installed just after spring break, is a black box connected to the secretary’s computer, who puts the state issued ID on it. The system then scans the national sex offender registry for names and birthdays that match the one scanned. If a match comes up, the secretary can signal if it’s legit. If so, a message is sent out to all building administrators to let them know someone on the registry tried to enter the building.

“We want to protect our students from people who should not be in our building,” Principal Louis Jensen said. “It sends a message that this school is very serious about security.”

Visitors can only enter one unlocked door at the school which puts them into a locked lobby, where they must give their ID.

Jensen said the process to check the list takes about 30 seconds.

“Every so often you’ll get a false positive,” said Kevin Cooke, systems administrator at the school.

Cooke said sometimes there may be someone with the same name and birthday on the registry. He said often it can be easily figured out if that person is indeed the other by looking at the picture on the ID and the one found on the registry.

Jensen said it cost about $3,000 to purchase the system, which doesn’t take into account having to have a computer and stickers for the black machine, which if the person is approved, prints out a visitor’s badge with the person’s picture on it. Jensen said the school had some leftover funds at the end of the year that wouldn’t roll over to this year, so this was purchased in December. He said it took some time to get it in and become acclimated to it.

The system costs about $400 a year to run, Cooke said, adding that the registry is updated every 30 minutes.

Betty Feller, the school’s secretary and receptionist, said the system is easy to run and she doesn’t mind doing the extra checks on visitors.

“I’ve had children that have gone though here and I would have felt safer if we had this system in place,” she said.

Jensen said the system can even be later expanded to tag anyone who isn’t allowed to be near their child or pick up their child due to a court order.

Jensen said the only complaint so far is from people having to go back to their vehicle to get their ID. He said in general, people seem pleased with the change.

“It’s safe. Not everyone remembers you from 12 years ago,” said Ami Driscoll, a former FCHS student who came back to visit office staff Wednesday afternoon.

Driscoll was one of those who had to go back to her car for her ID.

“That’s all right,” she said of having to retrieve it. “It’s safety measures.”

Cooke said Floyd Central is the first in New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. to install this program, though he said he’s heard that at least one other school is considering it.

“If the district decides to add more to it, the alert can be set up to go global,” he said, adding that each school would be notified that a sex offender was trying to enter one of the buildings.

Jensen said another nice feature of the program is that he knows who is in the building at any given time. He said if any certain person does something, like get violent, they can be tagged so that they are not let in again.

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