Poly Prep Country Day School is a preschool through Grade 12 independent day school. Their main campus is set on 25 acres in the heart of Brooklyn, N.Y., one of the largest in the metropolitan area. Founded in 1854, the school has a long history of serving a diverse student population.
The Dyker campus has over 350,000 square feet of building space, and security of its staff and students has always been a priority, said Vincent Rutuelo, the school’s head of security. The campus has 153 cameras and a security command center, and has evolved from seven to 18 security officers guarding the campus on a 24/7 basis. This is especially important since the campus regularly hosts special events outside of regular school hours, including a summer camp that typically involves over a thousand campers and councilor’s each year. “Security is the first person everyone sees on campus at the main gate,” he said.
Although Poly Prep had a security system in place, administration was concerned about a number of issues — ranging from student vaping to a recent train shooting that occurred only a short distance from the campus, Rutuelo said.
Security found it took too much time to check that all doors were locked. “We needed better and faster insight for our security team and first responders in the event of incident,” he added.
The school selected A+ Technology Solutions Inc., based in Bay Shore, N.Y., to install Gallagher access control for time and attendance, integrated with Allegion’s wireless locking solution for lockdown scenarios and door monitoring to create a safer environment for students, staff and visitors.
Poly Prep held vendor meetings on updating the system in fall of 2021. After hearing presentations from several integrators, Poly Prep selected to work with A+ based on its reputation, project management approach, prior familiarity with the school district, and its record of working with open platforms, Rutuelo said.
After thoroughly evaluating Poly Prep’s security needs, A+ installed the following systems:
- Gallagher Security’s integrated access control system, which replaced staffers’ physical keys with card access. “We’re moving from having to carry and issue numerous keys to proximity cards with control for individual access,” Rutuelo said. “Security can shut down access easily when someone leaves or loses cards.”
- The HALO Vape Detector system from IPVideo Corp. to identify vaping, THC use and masking attempts.
- An electronic wireless lock system from Allegion which enables security to automatically engage lockdown on all doors at once with the push of a button, eliminating the need to rely on teachers or security staff to secure each location.
- Bogen public address system, integrated with the Gallagher system to make announcements in over 200 speakers and bridge to the external sports fields with automated lockdown and fire drill messages.
- Blue-light security illumination to alert everyone in the event of a lockdown, including first responders from the school’s initial gatehouse entry.
A+ integrated the Gallagher platform with the school’s time and attendance, burglar alarm system, Avigilon camera system, and floor drawings, enabling security to pull up specific campus location cameras through the Gallagher system.
The project was not without its challenges, especially regarding wiring installation in a 164-year-old building, Rutuelo said. Additionally, privacy and personal identity information concerns were raised due to the HALO installations. In spite of these, however, A+ delivered its designs 60 days after vendor selection, and installation took place over this past summer.
Rutuelo expects that the new system will make a major difference in response time during lockdowns. “With the press of button, a single security officer can trigger lockdown in a second which previously took 5 to 10 minutes in manual operation with a team of eight people,” he said. Blue lights will provide instant audible and visual alerts, while the system’s access to all cameras with location mapping will improve first responder awareness. Every camera on campus can be accessed from the school’s main gate and command center for first responders. Panic buttons were also installed at all security locations to quickly notify police and security staff.
The project seems to have the full support of school employees, Rutuelo said. A+ is currently working with Gallagher to provide staffers with portal training videos to refresh policies on what to do during lockdown if a real event occurs.
In the end, Poly Prep highly appreciates the work done by A+ to improve the school’s security. “Everything A+ said they would do was done and they kept within timeline and budget,” Rutuelo said. “The installation team treated our school like their kids were attending and took the job personally."
David Antar, president of A+ Technology and Security, said, "Our mission is to make our communities a smarter and safer place, and this starts with our schools. We are proud of our efforts at Poly Prep to assist their security teams with the quickest campus-wide response possible in an emergency.”