School Safety Expert Visits Roanoke City Schools After Recommendations

Roanoke, VA - The tragedy in Newtown has our own school leaders talking security too.

A nationally recognized school safety expert says one of our local school systems didn't wait for tragedy to strike before taking action.

Kenneth Trump first visited Roanoke City Schools back in 2009. That visit, and most of the $1.2 million in security upgrades he suggested, were paid for by federal grants.

Superintendent Dr. Rita Bishop had already been talking with Trump about a return visit for several months prior to the Sandy Hook school shooting. But that made this visit happen faster.

From the second you drive unto the campus of Roanoke's Patrick Henry High School, someone wants to know who you are why you're there.

"The first and best line of defense is always a well trained, highly alert staff and student body."

That's what Kenneth Trump, a nationally known expert in school security, wanted to see on his second visit to schools.

In 2009, he left Roanoke City Schools Superintendent Dr. Rita Bishop with a long list of safety recommendations that Bishop wasn't particularly surprised by.

"No. They were all best practices. Every one of them," she said.

Practices like not opening the locked doors to an outsider, even if he's dressed in a suit like Trump knocking on this middle school door.

The kids did not let him in.

"If your staff are not trained to greet and challenge strangers. If your kids are not made familiar with not opening doors for people, you still have work to do," said Trump.

Bishop is willing to put the work in, reading the school crisis plan several times a year. She admits she's lost some sleep since Sandy Hook.

"I wake up every single morning and candidly, because it's my orientation, pray for the safety of our students," she said. "It makes you very thoughtful. And it makes the responsibility all the greater."

"The question isn't whether Sandy Hook is a wake up call. The question is will we hit the snooze button and go to sleep across the country," said Trump.

The school system is paying $40,000 for this visit.

There are 14 full-time police officers and sheriff's deputies whose only job is working in Roanoke City Schools. There are two school resource officers in each high school, and one SRO in each middle school. Five of them rotate through the elementary schools, and police even patrol private schools in the city.