Giant letters, numbers painted atop OC school buildings to help law enforcement in emergencies

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Giant letters were painted atop buildings at Villa Park High School in Orange County to help law enforcement helicopters differentiate campus structures when responding to emergencies. (CSI Services/Bob Crane)

Giant letters and numbers were painted atop buildings at Villa Park High School in Orange County to help law enforcement helicopters differentiate campus structures when responding to emergencies.

Students attending their first full week of class at the school likely had no clue that campus safety enhancements were just completed over the weekend. That's because from the ground level, it can't be seen.

Orange County sheriff's officials identified Villa Park High School, along with any high school for that matter, as a soft target.

"We don't want anything to happen. We want to be prepared for everything that could happen," said Deputy Brian Benzie with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Benzie described the $10,000 project as "simple." A crew painted large letters and numbers to better identify each building from above.

Law enforcement helicopters can use this information when responding to emergencies on campus - as serious as an active shooter situation.

Without these markings, the buildings would look much the same.

"Right now, we're on the rectangle in the north, and if we go south, we'll be on the rectangle in the south, and several rectangles and squares in between," Benzie described.

Kenneth Miller, principal of Villa Park High School, said the school is being proactive.

"God forbid something happens, there's a quick response and we keep the kids safe," Miller said.

Glass beads were added to the paint to better reflect under a spotlight, and the numbers were painted black to generate more heat during the day - enough to be picked up by infrared cameras at night.

The cost of the project was donated free of charge by CSI Services and Bob Hill Crane.

It's an idea sparked by similar projects already completed at Dana Hills High School and Saddleback Community College. Benzie thinks it just makes sense.

"I want to get these rooftop paintings going in every school in the county if we could," Benzie said.

The project at Villa Park High is not yet finished. School custodians plan to create similar markings on the sides of the buildings to better direct deputies on the ground if and when they respond.

Related Topics:
high schoolsafetyschool safetystudent safetyschool emergencyVilla ParkOrange County
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