Hillsborough school staff can trigger lockdown with the push of a button

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Hillsborough County Schools unveiled a new warning system Tuesday that will put the ability to trigger a lockdown in the hands of every school employee.

The system, called CENTEGIX CrisisAlert, uses ID badges that have the ability to initiate a school-wide lockdown, complete with sirens and emergency lights, with the press of a button. The system also gives first responders with the location the alert was triggered.

"It's adding another level of assurance, another level of vigilance," said Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough Schools Superintendent. "There's a level of confidence now that we have out in our schools that we know we can immediately lock down a campus and create safe environments for students."

Hillsborough Schools was awarded funds by the state’s Safety and Security of School Buildings Grant program to install and activate the $7.6 million system - making Hillsborough the first district in Florida to have it.

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the Hillsborough County school district has launched a series of security measures; there are now armed officers on every campus and buzzers at the entrances to every school.

Students said they hope the additional layer of safety can help save lives.

"I think it's amazing. I think this is one of the first things that actually makes me feel safe," said N'Dia Webb, a Strawberry Crest High School student. "It makes me feel safer as a student to know that the response time is cut down so much and the fact that the system is super cool and high-tech and to know that it'll work if the power goes out, it'll work if there's no wifi in the school, or somebody can get help whenever they need it without fear of it going down." 

"It's exciting for me because I feel a little more safe, or a little more comfortable to be able to go to school and to learn," added Elijah Seay, a Lennard High School student. "I feel protected and I think that our district is really listening to us."

The system can also alert school staff about a medical emergency. Technicians will be installing CrisisAlert into every school during the next several weeks, with the goal of having it running on every campus by the start of the school year.