JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind – Officials at Center Grove Community Schools said the district’s new Emergency Operations Center is already improving emergency response times and live monitoring of school buildings.

The new facility, located directly next to Center Grove Elementary School, now houses members of Center Grove Schools Police, Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, White River Township Fire Department and Bargersville Fire Department.  

Assistant Superintendent Bill Long said the facility represents a first-of-its-kind partnership in the state.

“First of all it shows great cooperation between four different agencies, but it also provides better coverage for everybody in the community,” Long said. “This isn’t just for the school corporation, this is for the entire White River Township, Bargersville area.”

The $5 million facility has been years in the making and resulted from a 2018 security assessment that found Center Grove needed to improve live monitoring and emergency response times at its schools. Long said the new facility does that.

“On Wednesday we had an emergency, a health emergency at one of our elementary schools,” Long said  “They were able to respond in a minute and twenty-three seconds.”

Long said discussions about the new operations center also took on new urgency in the wake of the 2018 shooting at Noblesville West Middle School.

For Center Grove Schools Police, the new facility provides a new home for the department.  It also provides live monitoring at all district buildings from a single room.

“This allows us to have all the cameras up and running at the same time,” said Center Grove Police Chief, Ray Jackson. “Be a little bit more proactive and be able to monitor a situation and see it before it happens.”

Jackson said the operations center also provides for closer partnerships and cooperation with members of the Johnson County Sheriff’s office and the two fire departments.

“We want to make sure that there’s another layer of protection for the students, for staff and for our community,” Jackson said.

For the two fire departments, not only does the new station give better access to the nearby school buildings. It also allows for better coverage of the surrounding Center Grove community.

“We live in one of the fastest-growing areas in the state of Indiana,” said Bargersville Fire Assistant Chief Michael Pruitt. “And we think it’s a model for what other agencies across the state are going to start looking at doing.”

While organizers are still in the process of moving some equipment to the new building, the operations center is up and running. A ribbon-cutting and open house is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. The building, located at 2309 S. Morgantown Rd, will be open to the public for tours.