Center Grove invests in a high-tech school security system

The Centegix CrisisAlert program was purchased, in part, with state school safety grant money.

GREENWOOD, Ind. – Center Grove Schools is entering its first full school year with a new high-tech security partner.

Centegix CrisisAlert, purchased in part with school safety grant money, is partnering with its emergency operations center that opened in January. The CrisisAlert program literally puts safety within the reach of all teachers and staff.

Both systems address what the district learned it needed to work on from a 2018 school safety assessment — live monitoring and faster emergency response times.

When children return to class at Center Grove on Wednesday, 700 smart cameras will scan for security in and around each school, looking for danger or anything suspicious with real-time tracking from the emergency operations center of the district.

“It’s eyes in the sky, basically,” explained Lynn Williams, SSO and Integrated Training Specialist.

In the event of a threat, teachers and staff can now get help much faster, simply by pressing a button on a badge.

It’s basically a wearable panic button that everyone wears on a lanyard.

“It’s like their ID cards. It fits in the same pocket as their ID cards,” said Center Grove Assistant Superintendent of Operations Bill Long.

“Before, we had to reach for a radio, our cell phone, get someone else to run for something. You press the button and it all happens – right now, added Craig Smith, central director of the Center Grove Middle School.

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Center Grove purchased the Centegix CrisisAlert system with the help of a school safety grant through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security late last spring. It can activate for things like medical emergencies, hallway fights, and active shooters. If there is an intruder, for example, staff can trigger a lock immediately.

“When that happens, everything comes on – the lights, the sirens, the computers take over, the voice tells us where to go,” Smith said. “And then we know the police are on their way.”

The “code red” in the classrooms prompts a quick response from the police at the operations center.

“It pops up on a map, shows us which room it is and which teacher pressed the button, and we can ask them for help,” Long explained. “We can talk to the sheriff’s department and our own police department in the exact room and on what floor.”

“I will be able to follow them down the hallway and in the meantime I will pass this information on to our officers,” added Williams.

This system can actually be used for more than just lockouts. Instant alerts are color coded, based on urgency, and students and staff are trained to know what color strobe light means what.

In severe weather, for example, a blue strobe means there is a tornado.

A green flash? An earthquake.

School leaders say the system is a game-changer: peace of mind that in a crisis, help is just a few clicks away.

“It gives us a sense of security,” Smith said. “It’s like an insurance policy, you just know it’s there.”

RELATED: Indianapolis Preschool Holds Training for Active Shooter Scenarios

Center Grove used the $100,000 school safety grant it received in 2021 to pay for one-third of the cost of the Centegix CrisisAlert system. The school board paid the rest of the cost.

Last year, IDHS awarded a total of $19 million in school safety grants to nearly 400 school districts.

The next round of grants for 2022 will be announced in September.

To find out if your school received a grant in 2021, and for how much, you can consult this interactive database:

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