Virginia Beach City Public Schools plan to increase school security


Philip Stiles

Security Officer Frank Lam monitors the front entrance and anyone who enters the building.

The school board promises to increase security by next school year, and the increase in security involves locking front doors and installing a buzzer system at school entrances.

“If the security team can look at strangers trying to enter the school, then I would say I feel safer. That way strange people can’t get in and wander the halls,” said junior Tremane Saunders.

This buzzer system allows the security officer to observe the person attempting to enter the building before allowing them access. The school system plans to install buzzers in 85 schools over the district by the beginning of next year.

The estimated cost of implementing these buzzer systems is $282,000.

“The buzzer makes us safer because visitors will not be allowed to enter without someone letting them in. They will be seen on the camera, and we can verify their identity as opposed to having them in your face,” said security officer Lovey Owens.

The school board states its mission is to reassure parents and students of their safety. One petition started by local mother, Melissa Smasal, currently has over 2,400 signatures. Smasal has a daughter in second grade, and after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, she decided to take action.

“The buzzer is better so that during school or after hours we don’t have students letting other students in. It will be safer because myself and the security staff or an administrator can look at them and approve them. Also, we don’t want kids letting others in the back doors,” said security officer Frank Lam.

Lam also shared that students should look out and report to an administrator any obscene behavior or any signs that someone is depressed. Also, if anyone brings any kind of weapon to school, it should be reported immediately.

“Our security team does a good job with a building of this size,” said Administrator Russell Gatling. “I know we will be getting another security officer next year full-time. It’s not an addition of a position, but a reallocation of a position. Also, one security officer monitors our security cameras at all times.”

In addition to a new full time security officer, it is possible that mirrors will be installed in stairwells in the next school year. According to, a large number of security regulations and technology are already in place. All exterior doors are locked and monitored by CCTV (Closed Circuit Television), which monitors the building through the security cameras placed at each entrance. Each school is equipped with intrusion alarms, and all have an emergency response plan for guidance during any emergency situations.

“We do a good job, and we will continue to stay vigilant,” said Gatling.