MILWAUKEE â€“ Johnson Controls is installing an innovative security solution designed to protect students in the nationâ€™s sixth largest school district, Broward County Public Schools in Florida, helping it to comply with the Jessica Lunsford Act.Â The Act, which took effect in September 2005, set requirements to prevent sexual offenders or predators from having access to Florida public school district campuses.Â
â€œThe STAR (Security Tracking and Response) System helps Broward County Public Schools address the issue of campus security, while fulfilling the requirements of the stateâ€™s Jessica Lunsford Act,â€ said Dr. Joseph Melita, Executive Director, Special Investigative Unit and Professional Standards, Broward County School District. Â â€œThe customized system provides the District with a state-of-the-art electronic method of identifying anyone who enters our school buildings and grounds in order to ensure the safety and security of our students and school-based staff.â€
As the project manager, Johnson Controls worked as a collaborative partner with the District to design, customize and implement this solution.Â The company serves as a single source for software development, installation, establishing processes, training, and ongoing service.Â System installation will be complete at 250 schools by September 2006.
Using SISCOâ€™s FAST-PASSÂ® system, the STAR System provides a standard method to document and track visitors as they enter and exit school sites.Â It offers high-speed level 1 checks against local, state and national sexual offender databases and level 2 checks against FBI and state and local law enforcement databases.Â The system will also be used to confirm authorization for student pick-ups.Â Furthermore, the project involves streamlining the volunteer program with an online application process.Â
â€œThe main goal of this solution is to prevent potentially dangerous individuals from having access to these students.Â In many cases, the idea of being identified will be enough to deter a sexual predator from making an attempt at these sites,â€ said Steve Thompson, Director of Marketing, Fire & Security Solutions, Johnson Controls.
A unique feature of the system is its network-wide connectivity.Â If a visitor moves from building to building, each attempt to gain access will be reflected in real-time throughout the District.Â The system can also work as a District-wide messaging center.Â For example, an Amber Alert, hurricane warning or other emergency could be communicated instantly to every workstation in the network.
Because it is at the forefront of this issue, the Broward County solution may serve as a model for schools in Florida and possibly throughout the country as the Jessica Lunsford Act has achieved awareness nationwide.Â Other states with this Act or an equivalent in place include Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, Nebraska, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia, and Jessicaâ€™s Law will appear on Californiaâ€™s November 2006 General Election ballot.