LAHORE  - City police yesterday activated a high-tech “operations room” to monitor schools security amid militant threats.

All public and private educational institutions were reopened amid massive attendance, as police patrolling was intensified across the metropolis.

Hundreds of schools are already linked with a “panic button” that would help administration immediately alert the police in any crisis-like situation.

A police spokesman said the city police launched the exercise to get panic buttons installed in all leading educational institutions in Lahore early last year. “The field police officers are directed to remain in constant contact with the schools administration to implement the security strategy,” he said. “In Lahore, panic buttons are installed in at least 335 schools”. The spokesman said the process would be completed probably by the end of this month since a few schools are yet to be linked with the panic button.

The central operations room yesterday was activated in one of the police headquarters in Lahore. Capital City Police Officer Amin Wains inaugurated the room during a simple ceremony. DIG (Operations) Haider Ashraf and DIG (Investigations) Sultan Chaudhry were also present on this occasion besides other officers.

DIG Haider Ashraf described the successful launch of the operations room as step a forward in revamping the policing. “We are moving towards technology-driven policing. These initiatives are going to help us in improving our relationship with public, monitor police digitally, document criminals, and revamp police administration,” Ashraf said.

Cops yesterday continued monitoring the security of schools from the operations room established in the office of DIG Operations. Schools remained closed across the Punjab province last week after the government announced abrupt holidays, triggering security concerns across the province. The educational institutions were closed for a week following terror assault on a university in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The government has made it mandatory for private schools to deploy at least two security guards at the entrance for security purpose. There are thousands of private and government-run schools in the city and it means that the metropolis needs thousands of guards to protect children, teachers, and staff.

Earlier, city police imparted training to private security guards at the Qila Gujjar Singh Police Lines. The guard’s employment, training, and verification are part of the initiatives being taken to enhance security at the educational institutions.

Several schools are yet to finalize the security arrangements as per the prescribed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in the Punjab province. The private schools management is pressing the government to provide them police security but they are told by the authorities to hire private guards.

Heavy police contingents yesterday were deployed around the elite public schools in Lahore. The Quick Response Force (QRF) – a well-trained wing of the Punjab police – has been tasked to provide security cover to the educational institutions. These police commandoes are put on their toes during the schools’ timing.

Also, policemen riding on gun-fitted vehicles were seen patrolling around the leading educational institutions to keep a vigilant eye on the activities of the miscreants.

More than 348 schools located in Lahore are declared sensitive and at least 23 are declared as most sensitive, official sources said.

According to the SOP, the height of the schools boundary walls must be 8 feet with two feet high barbed wires, CCTV cameras, and also maintaining the complete record of the schools’ workers, employees etc.

The police are asked to amend the security arrangements at the schools, which are divided into three categories – A+, A, B for security purposes. The management of all the private and public schools is bound to take security measurers as per the SOP.