PINE BLUFF, Ark.- In the wake of Monday’s guilty verdict in the killing of a Watson Chapel student in 2021, the district said new safety measures have been taken to prevent future occurrences.
Administrators have authorized over $700,000 to be spent on the purchase of metal detectors, camera upgrades, and the addition of more security guards within the district.
The district said upgrades have been made to the school where safety is top priority.
“I just heard gunshots. I was confused,” 10th grader Travis Hardin recalled about the shooting. “I thought someone was playing, banging on the door and stuff.”
Superintendent Tom Wilson said they’ve been proactive in the prevention of school violence.
“We have over 10 security guards,” Wilson said. “They take care of the metal detectors they walk through, and they search their bags to make sure they’re not carrying any kind of weapons.”
Wilson said with the addition of a camera system along with security staff and equipment, the school has been made secure.
Parent Deborah Dixon said the past shooting has left her child in fear of returning.
“He refuses to go to that school,” Dixon said. “He doesn’t even want to go into the parking lot. If I pull him there, he freaks out.”
Although some students are fearful, others said they are happy with the new safety features.
“Nothing has happened ever since,” Hardin said. “I’m pretty safe here.”
To add an extra layer of protection and security, Wilson said in October, the district will begin construction on a new state-of-the-art high school.
“We are gonna have safe rooms. next to our cafeteria will be a large safe room. and we’ll have more safe rooms in the classrooms,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to make our school safe and I want kids to enjoy school.”