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North Texas Schools Spending Millions On Security Despite Little Evidence On What Works

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - If you want to know the best way the protect a school from a gunman, everyone seems to have an answer.

From remotes that lock down an entire school with a push of a button to bulletproof backpacks, school security equipment has become a $2.7 billion industry.

The CBS11 I-Team asked 66 public school districts in the DFW area if they've purchased security equipment in the past year. Fifty-nine districts said "yes."

But while North Texas schools are spending millions hoping to keep students safer, there are no national standards for school safety products nor a government agency helping direct schools on what actually works.

"That's a big challenge," said Robin Hattersley, editor of Campus Safety Magazine.

After every school shooting, Hattersley said districts face mounting pressure from parents to spend money on new security measures. However, spending more money, she warns, doesn't always translate to safer schools.

"What we find is districts buy this stuff and districts don't keep them up, or they forget how to use them," Hattersley said. "I'm all for getting solutions and getting systems in place but the systems are only as good as the people using them."

The most common security purchase local schools told the I-Team they made this past year was additional security cameras. Thirty-seven districts bought more of them, including McKinney ISD that added 1,500 cameras at schools along with more cameras on every bus.

Twenty districts added secured vestibules to the main entrance of their schools. This was the second most common security addition. The reconstructed entryways typically feature double doors that require visitors to be buzzed in before being able to enter the main part of the building.

Despite all the talk about metal detectors, only Grand Prairie told the I-Team the added walkthrough detectors this year. Five other districts told the I-Team they recently bought portable hand-held detectors.

Frisco ISD purchased 140 metal detector wands this year but school officials said they hope what the district will puts in the hands of its students this year will have a greater impact.

When students return to class, Frisco ISD will be giving all of them the STOP!T mobile app to download on their phones. The app allows students to anonymously and instantly report any concerns.

"We depend on them to be the eyes and the ears of our school," said Independence High School Assistant Principal Ryan Solano. "Where ever a student is at now, they will have the ability to quickly communicate to us what the issue and concern is and it may be an emergency."

While Frisco ISD will be arming its students with apps, Farmersville ISD will be arming its school police officers with new firearms.

The rural Collin County district purchased new duty weapons, short-barreled rifles and rapid release gun lockers for each of the school district's officers.

Farmersville also added two more police officers to its current staff.

Three local schools districts (Joshua, Krum, and Duncanville) are starting their own police departments this year.

Joshua ISD officials said the move from school resource officers to school employed police officer gives the district greater control on how officers are deployed.

"There has always been officers here," new Joshua Police Chief David Hoschar said, "We are just school employees now and are able to put in more hours with the school district."

More hours, more money, and more equipment - it's a common theme across North Texas districts who are all hoping it adds up to safer schools.

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