The threat of gun violence continues to plague schools and the Department of Homeland Security recommends a multi-faceted approach to help prevent attacks and protect students. Even with multiple systems in place, adding another layer is always a good idea. Officials across the nation have learned some valuable lessons, primary of which are: there’s no accounting for human error and even professional equipment can break down.
One of the biggest problems schools and police encounter is well-meaning individuals that don’t communicate clearly and inadvertently delay rescue efforts. In one school, no action was seen on the school’s live video feed so school officials rewound the surveillance footage without making it completely clear that they had done so.
Police thought they were receiving live intelligence, when in fact the shooter had already left the building and was being arrested several blocks away. The result was that paramedics weren’t allowed to enter, delaying help to the wounded.
Equipment failures aren’t common, but they do happen. In one instance, police radios were working sporadically, leaving SWAT and other law enforcement in the dark as to exactly what was happening and where. Only a limited number of school staff had interschool radios, which made effective communication impossible.
Homeland Security has indicated that students and staff should hide in place until law enforcement arrives to escort individuals out of the school. In another instance, staff didn’t wait for police and chose to evacuate handicapped and disabled students on their own. Officers on the scene had no way to protect those students out in the open.
Even schools with security personnel often have policies that prevent those individuals from entering a school until police arrive. It deprives SWAT from eyes on the ground that could help pinpoint a shooter.
What many schools are ignoring as part of Homeland Security’s multi-faceted approach is the modern technology available through phones. Apps are available that can identify a shooter’s location with pinpoint accuracy, help users avoid detection, can summon first responders, and has earned the approval of law enforcement.
Surveillance cameras, metal detectors, staff radios, buzz-in entry, and on-site security personnel are only part of a robust prevention and protection protocol. Schools, staff, parents, police and communities must all make a concerted effort toward safety. When technology is available to help keep students safe, it’s the responsibility of everyone to bring it to the attention of the appropriate officials charged with keeping children safe.