Since the tragic Newtown, CT shootings, many different points of view have been expressed about how to address school security. There have been knee-jerk reactions, including arming teachers, putting police in schools, and, relevant to our business at Control Technologies, the installation of locks which would actually present their own life-safety issues.
It is inevitable that the heated discourse following the Newtown massacre will bring change to school security. Despite the loud calls for federal intervention, including a ban on assault weapons and multi-shot ammunition cartridges, change will most likely happen at the state and local levels. In New Hampshire and throughout New England, schools are already working on ideas for strengthening school security and school security systems. Improving video surveillance and providing access control systems and security guards top the list of ideas for boosting the efficacy of school security and building monitoring systems.
It certainly makes sense to evaluate school security systems, including installing video monitoring, revamping security procedures, and other techniques to prevent unwanted and armed individuals from entering schools – which, after all, must be safe havens for educating our children. But systems alone cannot fix the problem. Metal detectors, entry control, armed personnel, and video monitoring are reactive technologies, which an armed, intent killer will find a way to circumvent.
While conducting physical security evaluations is important, it is critical that schools take a close look at their security procedures. Just as the nuclear bomb drills many students were trained in (and frightened by) is not outdated today, so might huddling in corners and hiding under desks lead to more children and teachers getting hurt. In tandem with a security systems audit, schools should implement complete response drills and practice them regularly, with the ultimate goal of people calm in the event of the real thing.