GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Most schools in America are safe until that moment that they’re not. For the families who are affected by school violence, the rate of tragedy is 100%.

After a very successful, 30-year career with the Greensboro Police Department where he retired as an assistant chief, Mike Richey made the logical transition into being in charge of security for Guilford County Schools – the largest school system in the Triad and third largest in the state with 70,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff and more than 130 buildings.

“So at this point, our schools are fairly secure. We’ve got a really good plan in place,” Richey said. “The biggest challenge we have…is aging schools and aging infrastructure.”

Some major schools are nearly 100 years old. High Point Central was built in 1926. Dudley and Grimsley High Schools were built three years later in 1929. They often have a meandering, unique architecture that makes a common, easily-executed safety plan difficult, according to Richey.

“I told the school board a couple of months ago, there’s an easy way to make a school safe…12-foot concrete walls all around, no windows and no doors. But if we did that, can you imagine what we would be putting out as our students? Our students need the air. They need the light. They need that ability to be safe in an open environment,” he said.

Securing the schools is something dear to Richey’s heart since he has a child in the public school system.  And all his years as a police officer informed him of the challenges any area faces with securing its schools.

“We are a microcosm of our community,” Richey said. “We have a higher, five-year homicide rate than we’ve ever had in our community, and that is true of most communities in America right now, and I don’t want that bleeding over into the schools.”

Despite that and the sometimes overwhelming size of the task of securing such a big system, Richey is optimistic.

“The bright side is we have great leadership at those individual locations which make it easier, but it doesn’t take away that angst and that worry,” he said. “When I go into a school, the one thing that impresses me the most is the care by the staff for the kids.”

See the tools and other ways Guilford County has upgraded its safety in this edition of the Buckley Report.