Michigan District to Install Lockdown Lighting

Michigan District to Install Lockdown Lighting

Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) plan to install a new lockdown lighting system, which will include lights on the exterior of the buildings that flash during a lockdown to indicate that people outside should not enter the building.

Trustees from the Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Board of Education approved Monday a bid to install a new lockdown lighting system at multiple campuses as well as the administration center and four support buildings.

According to Matt Wolgamott of Feyen Zylstra LLC, which was awarded the installation bid, blue lights will be implemented in all areas of assembly, including hallways, gymnasiums and cafeterias. The system can be triggered using the existing security system, phones in classrooms or lockdown switches in the main office of a campus.

The lockdown lighting system also includes blue lights on the buildings’ exterior, which will flash when a lockdown is initiated to let people outside the building know they shouldn’t try to enter.

A lockdown drill using the new lighting system was performed last month at Blair Elementary School, which served as the beta site for this project. Chris Wise, the TCAPS security systems manager who designed the layout for Blair’s installation, told the Record-Eagle it was “one of the most expeditious lockdown drills we’ve had yet.”

"It's a lot better notification if there is a lockdown versus what we have now. Currently, people hit the switch and teachers are yelling in the hallways and going over the radios," Wise said. "These are extremely noticeable in the building. Your eye goes right to them."

The installation of the lockdown lighting system is scheduled to begin Monday and be finished before the next school year begins. The project will cost the district almost $230,000 but is completely funded via a Michigan State Police safety grant.

"The purpose of the grant is to keep students safe — or as safe as possible — through the purchase of technology and equipment," Michigan State Police Lt. Travis House said. "Unfortunately, these instances are continuing to happen. We dare not turn a blind eye to that. If we want to truly take some action right at the places where these tragedies are taking place, we have to invest in that security."

The lockdown lighting system includes a pulsing siren that not only alerts people to an emergency but also serves as a distraction or disruption for an intruder or shooter. Wise told the Record-Eagle that the noise is designed to be “as annoying as possible” so people will leave the building as quickly as they can. The siren’s volume and tone can be adjusted at each individual building.

"If you're in the hallways, it's trying to push you out," Wise said.

TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma said he’s pleased with the additional security provided by the new system.

"When that intruder has something on his mind, anything that disturbs it or gets him out of what he's focused on buys time," Soma said. "The time in these circumstances is seconds, but it saves lives."

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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