School Security – Before and After…
While we do not want to age ourselves too much at Protecting Our Students (POS), one thing we can say for certain is school security and violent campus incidents were all but nonexistent when we were going to school. Unfortunately, we live in a different time where our students are being trained on what to do in an active shooter incident. We do not bat an eye at giving an eight-year-old a cell phone just if they need to text us “I love you” one last time.
Bulletproof backpacks? We wish we thought of that one. This is the new world our students live in today. In the words of Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. Adapting is exactly what we are doing—all of us; parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community members.
While there may be more guns than ever in people’s homes and more school shootings than we care to mention, our technological advances for school safety have improved. According to the Department of Justice, – A Comprehensive Report on School Safety Technology, Author(s): Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Document No.: 250274 Date Received: October 2016 – more than 98% of schools have security technology in place to keep students safe. While this is good news, it is not enough. Unless a campus is locked down tighter than Fort Knox, incidents will and still are happening. One camera pointed haphazardly at the main entrance to a school is not going to cut it. While nothing is better than something, some security measures are a cut above the rest and POS is partnering with these outstanding providers of high-tech surveillance tools and efforts to reduce the time it takes for first responders to gain access and apprehend intruders on our school campuses.
While not a 100% foolproof tool, cameras can provide an amount of deterrence for crime and violence. Compared to the past, when equipment and installation costs were not affordable, today’s systems are commonly utilized in almost every school and business. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, – School safety and security measures – 83% of public schools employ security cameras for monitoring purposes. Cameras make it easy to see who is coming onto campus and provide a glimpse of where they are traveling. Knowing where an assailant is on campus during an active shooter situation can help law enforcement track that person for a quicker takedown than blindly walking around campus. Cameras are also a useful evidence-gathering tool to view footage after a crime. A surveillance camera system may have some downsides, such as limitations in views and angles, always needing a power source, and privacy concerns. Surveillance technologies for schools today have advanced to a level that does provide a major level of safety.
Metal detectors are a risk reduction tool put in place mainly at entrances to provide an alert for someone carrying a weapon or other dangerous metal objects. Metal detectors are a great asset because not only will an alert go off if a firearm is detected, but they can also detect knives, bombs, and other dangerous items. A metal detector will pick up on someone immediately attempting to bring something threatening into a school facility right then and there. With no delay, someone can be stopped right in their tracks before any harm is committed. The downside to these detectors is that they can be costly and slow down people attempting to enter the facility. Additionally, our schools are not prison-like, and this tool requires a degree of intrusiveness and sensitivity.
Seeing an armed guard stationed at a school today would not turn as many heads as it would have 20-30 years ago. It is standard practice and becoming more popular across the nation but yielding mixed reactions. Some find it comforting; others feel it creates a sense of fear. Does having an armed guard on campus help during an active shooter situation? The results vary. An armed guard can take someone down quicker than having to wait for law enforcement to show up. Let’s not forget that any amount of damage done before the guard can take down the assailant is still damage, nonetheless. There is also a high cost associated with hiring someone to patrol a school whose service will never be “paid off”. Lastly, a JAMA Network Open – Presence of Armed School Officials and Fatal and Nonfatal Gunshot Injuries During Mass School Shootings, United States, 1980-2019 – the study found for all U.S. shootings at K-12 schools from 1980-2019, of 133 incidents, 1 in 4 had an armed guard on the scene.
We cannot talk about school security measures without mentioning our POSSafetyNet℠ software app. POSSSafetyNet℠ was created to be the first line of awareness of defense regarding school shootings. Our app works to standardize gun safety and security into a framework that can be applied to all schools nationwide, regardless of type, size, or geographic location and funding. The app is a cutting-edge school risk assessment tool that generates reporting to highlight deficiencies. A first step in guiding schools across the nation to align with safety best-practices and emergency operating procedures (EOPs) in a single, uniform approach to help end school shootings. In addition, this app technology uncovers critical information about prospective threats, which then provides guidelines on how to identify and address deficiencies pertaining to school shooting safety. We at POS believe this is the first and most critical step a school can take to ensure safety on campuses.
The end result can be flawed and mixed. There is no magic formula for utilizing certain practices to secure a campus. While we have come a long way technology-wise than we were years ago, it still makes us sad to think about why we require these advancements in the first place. Every school must do what they feel is right and best for the students and staff. Whatever security tools a school chooses to implement, the number one priority should be educating children in a safe environment.