Inside Tulsa Public School's High Tech Security Center
TULSA, Oklahoma - School districts in Green Country are constantly brainstorming on how to keep kids safe. In Tulsa Public Schools, the district has invested several millions of dollars into a high-tech security center.
Sarah White brought 16 years of experience with her when she became a dispatcher with Tulsa Public Schools.
"I completely love it here," White said. "I enjoy my job."
White is one of six full-time dispatchers at the Communication and Security Center. The 24-7 operation inside the Education Service Center represents TPS's priority of safe, secure schools.
"All these security safety issues are coming under one umbrella and it's very efficient, it's very cost effective," said TPS Chief Gary Rudick. "I think we are getting the biggest bang for our buck."
From one center, TPS handles radio communications with its two dozen campus police officers. They also monitor fire and burglar alarms, severe weather during student events and GPS tracking for buses. That's on top of the 350 daily phone calls the dispatchers field.
"We get everything from the schools from medical emergencies to police emergencies to kids who would set a trash can on fire," White said.
If a person dials 911 from any TPS phone, it rings here first so dispatchers can make sure it's a legit 911 call
"We get a lot of misdials with kids playing on the phone, with kids trying to call home when they're not used to this 918 dialing," White said. "It's amazing how many calls we are able to filter out."
Surveillance cameras at the schools give eyes to TPS Police Chief Gary Rudick's staff. They can pull up any camera and immediately assess a situation.
If necessary, they can also tap into Tulsa Police Department's radio communication during a school emergency.
"I think people should feel good about the fact that their tax dollars and bond money are going toward what the patrons of the district felt like was important," Chief Rudick said.
TPS plans to have surveillance cameras in all of its schools by 2015 as part of a 2010 bond issue. Leaders also expect to install a system soon that lets the security center lockdown any TPS school with the touch of a button.