BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Our nation is still reeling from another mass shooting. That shooting at a Texas elementary school left nineteen children and two educators dead.

This tragedy has launched the EBR Parish School System to amp up its security. EBR Parish School System Director of Security Robert McGarner prays local families never have to experience this suffering.

“I get on my knees and pray every morning and every night that nothing like this happens over here,” McGarner said. “We are beefing up our security.”

This latest tragedy happened over five hundred miles away, but McGarner says it’s best to be prepared.

“You have to be proactive, and from my law enforcement experience with the Baton Rouge Police Department, being reactive doesn’t work at all,” McGarner said.

McGarner has only been in this position for a few months but he’s already upgrading to buildings. He said the newer school buildings have doors with buzzers, keeping out any unwanted visitors.

“The older schools do not have it, we are in the process of getting that problem rectified,” McGarner said.

They are also adding more security cameras.

“Add in more cameras, get them in the right spots, because we have some cameras that are in the wrong spots in my opinion after doing a risk assessment,” McGarner said. “Too many blind spots inside and outside the schools.”

Along with regular active shooter drills, McGarner said every person should keep three words in mind.

“Run, hide, and fight. Always run, hide, and fight,” McGarner echoed.

After the shooting in Texas, Dr. Sito Nararcisse emailed the school system about their plans to bulk up safety measures. Read the message sent below:

Earlier today, I met with our director of security along with our chief of schools to ensure additional protocols are being immediately implemented to increase safety measures on every school campus in our district. From that conversation, four main actions are currently taking place:

  • Principals and supervisors are meeting with school leaders to review current security protocols.
  • Risk assessments are being conducted, recorded and further analyzed for each school campus.
  • Increasing intruder/active shooter training implementation scheduling.
  • Reviewing campus landscapes for additional security needs.

We believe these action items will provide immediate improvements to the security measures currently in place. The safety and security of our school community are always our top priority. We will remain vigilant in working to keep our schools safe for all. 

McGarner says he feels called to protect students.

“I make my peace with God every night and every morning and if I have to die for one of those kids to live I would die with a smile on my face,” McGarner said without hesitation in his voice.

McGarner tells me the school system’s cameras are plugged into the parish’s crime center, so if there is a situation, police can see in real-time what is happening.