Protecting Our Schools is Common Sense Part 5
Written by Robert D. Sollars
What Physical Security Measures can be used to Prevent School Violence. This is a difficult subject to adequately cover in just a few words. There are literally, thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of books, articles, & white papers, on this subject. And all of them have their good and bad points.
But even with their good & bad points, as in the Uvalde, TX disastrous massacre of students, these points don’t do much good if they aren’t followed thru with, and in Uvalde, they weren’t in more than one instance. I will attempt to boil it down into these few words with the most practical, effective, & efficient (both financially and time-wise) for you.
- The first point is that parents need to be involved with security for the school. They don’t need to know everything of course, but if they are a concerned parent then let them ask the necessary questions. As with all good security, you don’t need to disclose everything.
Should you be concerned with the questions about your security plans and other security-related items? Of course, but if they are a concerned parent or happen to be a security professional, then you can ask for and get their input from a different point of view. Even if the district has a security manager, what would it hurt to get a different perspective on the security plans?
- Don’t lie to the parents or the press. I was told, extremely succinctly by a district I had approached about assisting them, that they had “absolutely no security issues or students who would do something like that”. The next week a 14-year-old was arrested for filling a backpack with weapons to “solve a problem”.
- All doors should be locked at all times that school is in session. Crash bars on the doors for emergency exit is a federally mandated requirement for obvious reasons. NEVER allow them to be propped open by anyone for any reason unless they are directly and constantly monitored. There are innumerable kinds of alarms and locking mechanisms for classroom doors that are inexpensive to install.
- Ensure that the windows within the doors aren’t wide enough for hands to reach through & unlock them. These sidelights are standard installations in nearly all new construction to make them friendly and inviting.
- Access control, everyone who enters the school needs to be required to get a visitor pass. Ideally, the entrance to the school can be redesigned so that everyone has to go through the main office. This procedure would even include delivery people for the kitchen, visitors, other deliveries, salesmen, etc.
Another aspect of this is to attempt to funnel all the kids through one door when school is ready to start. This may not be very feasible with many older buildings; a monitor needs to be present at every entry point.
- CCTV systems. Never go for a cheap system that is available at discount retailers. They are efficient; however, they are also not effective in identifying intruders after hours. A high-quality system is a must. The extra cost may help to catch a hooligan or spot an Active shooter before anyone gets hurt. Necessarily your CCVS system needs to be monitored and recorded 24/7/365.
- Lock up all hazardous materials, while this may sound elementary, you may be surprised at the explosive-proof cabinets that are left unlocked, open, & with unsecured deadly chemicals, because the instructors are trusting.
- Violence Prevention & Recovery Plans (VPRP). This is an absolute must. You must also include if you want the kids to run & hide or fight first or evacuate the building. The key with a VPRP is that everyone in charge who works inside knows the plan so they can assist the children.
- Get rid of those ridiculous zero-tolerance policies because they are a simple excuse for people not to do their jobs when the issue crops up. Too many times a kid bites his pop tart into a firearm and plays cops & robbers or army. Then they get expelled and ruin their academic career with a black mark that was stupid and foolish for the administration to enforce.
Are these all the measures you can take? Of course not, but it’s a start. We can always install 10-foot brick walls with concertina wire, guard towers, double vehicles, and pedestrian gates. Hand wand and pat down everyone entering the campus and install GPS in every student’s backpack or arm.
Will that make them safer from a murderer? Yes, as long as the murderer comes in from outside, but what of the butter knife in the cafeteria or the hammer in shop class? And do we want our children trying to learn in an armed camp? What then is the solution?