ATLANTA — The mass shooting in Texas is renewing discussions about school security among metro Atlanta school leaders.
From increasing patrols on campus to providing mental health services, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, and Atlanta Public School officials say they're making every effort to offer students support.
There have been 27 school shootings across the country this year alone, according to education week. APS offered insights on their efforts to keep kids and staff safe.
“We’ve increased the number of cameras to help video surveillance throughout the district. We have access control installed in all of our schools," explained Atlanta Public School Police Chief Ronald Applin.
The district police chief said they saw a transformation in school security about ten years ago following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
“Instead of standing around waiting for SWAT to come, you know, we started training officers to get inside, get to the shooter, stop the threat,” Applin said.
Applin said one of the most important measures is training campus officers in social, emotional, mental health, and crisis prevention training.
“The Secret Service did a study a few years ago, and in that study, they talked about in active shooter events that 84% of the time someone knew about it," adds Applin.
He adds that while technology measures are important, creating a safe space for students to share what's going on could be critical to avoiding the next shooting.
"If we can develop a relationship with our kids to a point where they feel comfortable coming to us with this information," Applin said. "That's going to put us in a better position to protect them.”
APS officials say they are looking at additional ways to ramp up security measures, including facial recognition technology and gun detection software.
Former public safety chief in Dekalb County, Cedric Alexander, said that while high-tech security systems are becoming more essential - increasing armed officers and adding additional metal detectors are also the most feasible measures.
“We’ve got to do better at protecting our children in our schools and protecting our communities," explains Dr. Alexander.