Security System Helps Spot Sex Offenders Before They Enter The School

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BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) – Officials greeting visitors to any of the Ken-Ton Union Free School District’s buildings now check to see if the person arriving is registered as a sex offender. They do so through a system known as Raptor, one of several strategies implemented to secure students and others inside school buildings.

Kenmore West High School monitor Kathleen Parker greets WBFO reporter Michael Mroziak as she scans his ID through the school district’s Raptor system. It screens visitors to school buildings to check if they’re registered on any child abuse databases. (Michael, for the record, was easily cleared!) Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Through the raptor system, guests arriving at a school building submit their identification – most commonly a driver’s license – to the waiting school monitor who then runs it through a scanner. The subject’s ID is then used to conduct an on-the-spot background check.

“In our case, it ties into a child abuse database,” said Ken-Ton School Superintendent Stephen Bovino. “We’re able to screen out those type of folks. There’s also alerts we can put in the system.”

Once the subject checks out, which is indicated by a green light flashing on the scanner, a label is printed featuring the guest’s name and image of their face, as well as their specific destination within the school building.

The Raptor system has been in use in other Western New York schools but the Ken-Ton District decided to explore it after last year’s shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. It began as a pilot project at Kenmore West High School in January but has since expanded to be implemented in every building.

While the Raptor will not detect would-be shooters or other offenders not registered on an abuse database, it’s just one element in a broader security strategy, as Bovino further explained. It begins by directing all incoming visitors to one door.

“At our single point of entry, folks have been trained and have direct access to a phone or walkie-talkie or both and can immediately notify the office,” he said as he stood in the entrance to Kenmore West High School. “Additionally, particularly in this building but in all our buildings, the kids are trained to be aware.”

And they are, according to Bovino, who tells WBFO several students have come forward to point out activities in or near the school grounds which prompted follow-ups by local police.

Kenmore West, for one, is located in a high-traffic neighborhood. As numerous cars and pedestrians traveled along Delaware Road, a ceremony held within the building Tuesday brought numerous adults and guests inside.

Bovino says the Raptor system has been well-received.

“Ken West was one of the buildings that piloted it. I personally spoke to our staff member there, and actually is has been one of the smoothest implementations,” he told WBFO. “We’ve had no complaints from parents or visitors, so we’re happy with the system.”