New system tracks school visitors

Published: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 21, 2005 at 11:00 p.m.
Protecting students at Alachua County schools will be a scan away with a new visitor tracking system that can seek out sexual offenders.
Cpl. Dan Stout, grants coordinator with the Gainesville Police Department, has been working with Alachua County School Board security officials on implementing the Lobby Track visitor identification and tracking system.
Produced by Pitney Bowes Global Mailing Systems, Lobby Track electronically monitors school visitors by scanning the bar code on their driver's license. The system prints out an identification card listing the visitor's name, arrival time and destination and if the person is authorized to visit the child. It also checks the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's list of known sexual predators and offenders and alerts school officials, Stout said.
Stout said the $50,000 system will be installed at all 44 of Alachua County's public schools in a few months. Alachua County will be the first to use the technology in the state, Stout said.
"As a police officer and a parent, my hope is we prevent offenders from victimizing children on school campuses," Stout said. "We'd like to see other counties pick up on this technology."
GPD received a $25,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice in October and matching local funds for the project. Stout said that a Lobby Track terminal is already being tested at C.W. Norton Elementary School in northwest Gainesville.
On Tuesday, 11-year-old Adam Kirkirt was taken from Dunnellon Elementary School by his father's roommate, Frederick Fretz Jr., 42, who was convicted in 1991 for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in Pennsylvania. The boy was found alive Friday in Georgia.
Stout said that having the systems at the county's schools may deter offenders from looking for their victims on school campuses.
The system only operates during school hours and is not set up to monitor people who pick children up after school, which was the case with Fretz, who had permission from Kirkirt to pick the boy up from school.
But any extra measure to protect students at school is worth the try, said Jackie Johnson, spokeswoman for the Alachua County School Board.

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