Panic Buttons? A Gigantic Change

AP Human Geography teacher, Deborah Sunset showing her Centegix CrisisAlert badge.

Ana Garcia-Cabrera

AP Human Geography teacher, Deborah Sunset showing her Centegix CrisisAlert badge.

Ana Garcia-Cabrera, Staff Writer

The rooms were silent. You could hear the faint sound of the beep in the classrooms. Teachers’ desktop computers were screaming the message “code red lockdown in session.”

On August 24, 2022, the Suncoast campus tested out the new code red protocol. In previous years and still, the protocol went as follows: turn off the lights, make sure the doors are locked, get out of harm’s way to avoid intruders and stay silent. This includes a complete lockdown where no movement occurs. The implementation of these new security features makes students and faculty question how effective they will be. I believe that the new system is worthwhile and a change for the better.

The implementation of panic buttons was a unanimous district-wide decision. Teams came during the summer to install the panic buttons in all schools in the Palm Beach County School District and provided training to the administration team and teachers on how to use this new technology.

Principal Kathryn Koerner stated, “From what we understand through the company [Centegix], it has had success around the schools it’s been implemented in.”

In an article from Campus Safety Magazine, Centegix was ranked the best for panic alarms by the Campus Safety
BEST Awards of 2021.

Centegix has a history of being reliable from standard facilities to schools in different districts because the panic
buttons allow an exact location to be sent out in moments of danger. One of the main reasons for choosing the Centegix CrisisAlert System was the simplicity it brought to school security.

The panic buttons themselves are on badges attached to the back of the lanyards teachers and staff carry everyday. In order to fully activate it, the button needs to be pressed multiple times. This ensures that activating the system accidentally would be a rare occurrence.

When the system is activated, the whole school goes on lockdown. This can be detrimental to the education of our Chargers if activated accidentally as class time would be cut. The local authorities would also take time out of their day for a false alert. It is reassuring to know that this would be a rare occurrence as it would take a purposeful attempt to trigger the system.

Koerner described, “[panic buttons] would notify not only our school police, but our local authorities as well and they would instantly come.”

The safety of students and staff is very important, and having the Riviera Beach Police Department is very helpful in times of emergency. The panic buttons ensure a way to communicate with people who are trained to deal with dangerous situations.

The K-12 School Shooting Database has recognized Florida as being third in the United States to have the most school shootings with a total of 90 school shootings in 2022 alone. Carrying that title is not something to be taken
lightly. There is a need for protection and the new panic buttons provide that for us.

Koerner stated, “We are very fortunate to have [panic buttons]. What it does is cut out the time of someone to announce the code red and get authorities, so it can really save lives.”

Overall, the panic buttons seem to be a great advancement in the security of schools in the Palm Beach County School District.