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Education

District 99 begins new year with enhanced security measures

Armed lead security officer stationed at both schools

Two recently retired police officers will lead the security efforts at Downers Grove North and South high schools when students return to school Aug. 17.
Two recently retired police officers will lead the security efforts at Downers Grove North and South high schools when students return to school Aug. 17.

DOWNERS GROVE – Two recently retired police officers will lead the security efforts at Downers Grove North and South high schools when students return to school Aug. 17.

The full-time, armed lead security officers will oversee building security and personnel at both schools, Superintendent Hank Thiele said in an Aug. 6 letter to parents.

“We are introducing several new security enhancements at North High School and South High School in Downers Grove, all of which will be in place when the school year begins,” Thiele said.

Russ Rau, a retired Downers Grove police officer with 29 years of service, will be lead security officer at Downers Grove North. Rau previously served as a school resource officer at both District 99 schools.

Dan Niemann, a retired Des Plaines and Vernon Hills police officer with 29 years of service, will be the lead security officer at Downers Grove South. Niemann has served as a commander, sergeant, detective, tactical officer and field training officer.

Rau and Niemann will work alongside the Downers Grove Police Department school resource officers stationed at each school.

“It provides us redundancy,” Thiele said. “It gives us our own expert. It’s a different relationship when it’s our own employee.”

Other members of the school security teams include individuals who are former police officers or who have experience as security guards, he said.

The addition of the lead officers is only one element of the district’s ongoing security enhancements, Thiele said.

The front entrances at both schools have been reconfigured to include pass-through windows that allow school personnel to screen visitors prior to allowing entrance into the buildings. Permanent secured vestibules will be built as part of the district’s master facility plan.

The district also added a new rapid emergency response system that includes blue police alarm pull stations, which are similar to fire alarm pull stations, Thiele said.

When the alarm is activated, police are immediately notified, loudspeakers throughout the buildings broadcast emergency information and strobe lights are activated both inside and outside the building. The system also will be installed at the district’s Transition 99 Center.

Additionally, a third-party application, “Crisis Go,” will allow staff members to communicate electronically with the internal safety team and local law enforcement during a crisis situation, Thiele said.

The installation of safety and security film is another part of the security measures.

"We are installing a safety and security film to cover select door entryways," Thiele said. "The one-way film will allow students and others who are inside to see outside, but block those outside from seeing into the building."

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