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New School Security System Allows For One-Button Lockdown

MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The stabbing spree that left nearly two dozen students injured in suburban Pittsburgh this week came as a Tri-State Area school district installed what could have been one of the most advanced school security systems in the nation.

As CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, the security system features a panic button with brains, which automatically launches a series of security steps.

The panic button has been set up at Plainedge High School in Massapequa. It can launch a lockdown with one touch.

The smart panic button is mounted in the school office, but can also be activated from administrators' mobile devices. One button launches a series of safety measures simultaneously.

"When you make the choice to pull the button, you're pulling the button on all these actions," said Plainedge School District Supt. Dr. Edward Salina.

Once the button is pressed and the system is activated, doors are locked and access is disabled.

Meanwhile, a pre-recorded announcement is played: "We are now moving into lockdown. Everyone please lock down and await further instructions."

Police are notified, and text alerts are sent to parents and students. Computers display a lockdown message, strobe lights flash, and first responders can access a network of surveillance cameras and floor plans.

"You want to be able to push run and activate -- secure yourself, secure the staff, secure the students," said Lee Mandel of one-button facility lockdown system developer IntraLogic Solutions. "You don't want to have to pull out the checklist and say, 'What do I do first, second and third?'"

During a lockdown, students and staff would be able to exit the building if necessary, and first responders would be able to enter.

The $10,000 one-touch feature was paid for by New York State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security funds. One day after the stabbing rampage in Pennsylvania, parents and students told CBS 2 they welcomed the upgrade at the school on Long Island.

"I don't take it as a big brother," said Massapequa resident Donna Macpherson. "I take it as lets be ahead of the curve."

"I don't think it's too much," said high school freshman Leanne Macpherson. "I think, like, as much as they can do, that's good."

District administrators said they feared panic can slow reaction time. Now, they can launch a lockdown without human hesitation costing precious moments.

The one-button lockdown was unveiled at the National School Board Association annual conference last week in New Orleans.

More than 70 other school districts in New York State are in the process of similar upgrades.

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