How can Schools Increase Security to Prevent Mass Shootings?

Since the horrific murders of 12 students in 1999 at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado, schools have changed their approach in dealing with threats and safety. While many of us grew up with fire drills, tornado drills, or “duck- and- cover” drills in case of a bomb attack, today’s students train on lockdowns in case of active shooters.

This year alone, since the beginning of 2018, guns have been fired in or near school buildings 18 times. 19 students have been killed in two mass shooting events.

On January 23rd, a 15-year old student opened fire at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. Two students were killed and 17 more were injured.
Then, on Valentine’s Day, just 10 minutes before the dismissal bell, another mass shooting took place at a school. This time it was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A former student entered the building wearing a gas mask, carrying smoke grenades, and equipped with an AR-15-style assault weapon and multiple magazines. Police say he pulled the fire alarm and started shooting. 17 students and teachers were murdered and dozens more were injured.

14-year old Alyssa Alhadeff was one of the victims. “How do we allow a gunman to come into our children’s school?” asked Alyssa’s mom, Lori, during an interview on CNN. The pain and anguish in her voice was evident as tears streamed down her face. “How do they get through security? What security is there?” she questioned. “The gunman – a crazy person – just walks right into the schools, knocks down the window of my child’s door and starts shooting, shooting her (Alyssa) and killing her!”

School Shooting Prevention Tactics: How Can We Prevent Mass School Shootings?

It is impossible to guarantee the full prevention of another incident in the future. History has taught us that all too well. However, there are safety measures schools can implement to be better prepared to deal with threats and minimize the risk. Here’s what some schools are doing to prevent mass shooting on campus.

Lockdown Drills, Active Shooter Exercises

The National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Resource Officers believe that lockdown drills are the essential building block of any armed assailant drill. More than 40 states now require schools to provide advance safety training to staff and students. Many schools have also adopted the A.L.I.C.E. training regimen

  • A = Alert
  • L = Lockdown
  • I = Inform
  • C = Counter
  • E = Evacuate

It was this training that spurred Angela McQueen, a Physical Education teacher at Mattoon High School in Mattoon, IL to action when a student pointed a gun at other students in the cafeteria in September, 2017. As the school immediately went into lockdown, Ms. McQueen ran at the student with the gun. As he was pulling the trigger, she managed to force his arm towards the ceiling. Two students suffered non-life-threatening injuries, but a mass shooting was prevented.

Increased Communication and Awareness

Experts agree that the key to preventing school shootings is to recognize the signs of potential threats. After an exhaustive review of the incident at Columbine High School, the FBI recommended threat assessments should include an effort to formally monitor student’s mental health. By simply identifying students that show warning signs, a well-trained staff member may help prevent a potentially devastating incident.

In Parkland, Florida, the alleged shooter was a troubled student with a history of violence and had been expelled from school for disciplinary reasons. He also reportedly had social media accounts with pictures of weapons and may have signaled his intent with his comments. Constant communication with students, including a “See Something, Say Something” approach is crucial. While impossible to know exactly how many school shooting incidents have been prevented, it has often been because students saw or heard something, and reported it.

Increased Police Presence & Surveillance

Many school districts and universities employ uniformed security officers, often with federal grant money.

“The number of educational facilities with School Resource Officers (SRO’s) grew from just 13% of schools in 1994 to more than half of all schools (51%) a decade later”
According to a study by Xavier University.

SRO’s work closely with school administrators to promote safety.

In addition to coordinating training and taking action in emergencies, officers act as a sign of security and visible deterrent to potential incidents. In addition, they build relationships with students and a provide safe harbor for students to report trouble. They also provide a highly trained set of eyes to detect potential problems.
Highly visible surveillance cameras can also act as a deterrent and help detect and track intruders.

Metal Detectors

Typically limited to inner city schools in major metropolitan districts, metal detectors have not been widely adopted at schools and universities nationwide.

They are an extremely expensive solution that takes both hardware and staffing, and more studies are needed to prove whether they could prevent incidents.

Controlled Access Points and Security Guard Booths

In addition to a security presence, schools have added additional control measures. Doors at many schools remain locked during school hours and visitors are required to be buzzed in, signed in, and issued badges. Forcing all visitors through limited access points, including security booths, provides a central control point and can help prevent unauthorized visitors.

Door side view of a booth at Manhattan Beer Distributors in Bronx

Safety guard booths

School Shootings That Have Been Prevented

Controlled access and an immediate lockdown are credited with preventing what could have been another mass school shooting in November, 2017. A gunman in northern California had already killed four people and injured 10 more in a rampage at multiple locations when he got to the Rancho Tehama Elementary School. Fortunately, he was unable to get into the main part of the school due to its controlled access. As the school went into lockdown, the shooter got frustrated and fired off 20-30 rounds at the school. While one student was hurt, a mass incident was prevented.

The Guardian Booth School Safety Fund

In light of the recent mass shootings at schools, there is a call for increased security measures so that such devastating incidents become a thing of the past. Throughout the years, we at Guardian Booth have provided guard booths to several Schools schools and Universities universities around the country, and are proud to play a small role in helping increase security at educational facilities nationwide.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, staff, and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Given the recent events, we have established the Guardian Booth School Safety Fund on GoFundMe.com to make our Guardian Booth guard shacks, guard booths, and security enclosures available to sSchools, cColleges, Universitiesuniversities, and other educational facilities nationwide at a deeply discounted rate. With an initial commitment of With an initial commitment of $30,000 by our company to kick-start the campaign, we will donate five booths to different schools around the country and offer a 10% discount to educational facilities who purchase a booth or six months free of charge with a rental of 36 months.

We are encouraging the general public to consider a contribution to the Guardian Booth School Safety Fund so that we may use the funds to continue to offer significant discounts and free rentals to educational facilities nationwide above and beyond the initial amount pledged by our company.


 

Guardian booths at different schools

If you would like to donate to the Guardian Booth School Safety Fund, please click here .
If you are interested in purchasing or renting a security guard booth, please contact us.

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