School security: A focus on doors
With all the school security technology available today regarding emergency safety and security scenarios such as active shooter situations, there are a few simple considerations that should not be overlooked by administrators and school security leaders. Perhaps the first and arguably one of the most important considerations is doors.
According to the final report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, there has not been an active school shooter who has breached a locked classroom door to date. Why? Well, it’s really a question of time and opportunity, say school security experts, and locked doors or bullet-proof glass can buy first responders and administrators critical extra minutes to respond and react to a potential emergency situation.
“An active shooter doesn’t have time to screw around with locked doors in the seconds they have. They will go after what they see and what they have the opportunity to go after,” says Guy Grace, former security director at Littleton Public Schools, who responded to his own district’s active shooter situation in 2013, where a student killed another student before shooting himself at Arapahoe High School. Grace is now an active Consultant and Advisor for the Partner Alliance for Safety Schools. “The industry has capitalized on the opportunity with more barricades, cumbersome devices and other technology, but when we think about active shooter scenarios, focusing on locks should be the number one. The best course of action is a properly functioning lock on your classroom doors.”
Cedric Calhoun, CEO of the Door Security and Safety Foundation, says that school stakeholders must take into account the unintended consequences of implementing technologies to prevent active shooters. A few years ago, the foundation started a campaign called Opening the Door to School Safety, which is meant to shine a light on the “importance of locking, not blocking doors.” The main focus, Calhoun says, should be on providing life safety and security to school stakeholders, students and staff in a practical way.
“Barricades or other solutions can be used to prevent the bad guy from getting in, but it can also prevent those locked inside from getting out or from first responders getting in,” Calhoun says. “The key in school crises is to delay the advance of the attacker.”
Indeed, in the aftermath of several school shootings, including Virginia Tech, Platte Canyon High School and West Nickel Mines Amish Schoolhouse, first responders publicly discussed difficulties accessing barricaded classrooms.
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