Too Tight Security Can Cost a Student’s Life

Posted on Jun 16 2016 - 1:00am

ShootingWith all the news of mass shootings happening, it’s only reasonable for schools to tighten their security measures.

Building security shares an unpleasant relationship with shooting scenarios. To prevent future nightmares from happening, campus authorities install perimeter fences and ballistic or security films over doors and windows, as well as remodel facility entrances.

Improving access control saves lives. Too much of it, however, might put people closer in harm’s way.

The Shooters are Usually Students

A study from the Secret Service reveals that the majority of school shooters are former or current students. Their familiarity with the area gives them an edge; the sense of belonging gives them extra confidence in carrying out their plans.

Installing perimeter metal fences can neutralize these threats, but doesn’t completely stop attackers. Schools design fences with one or two ingress points, which also serve as egress locations. In case of a mass evacuation, students might not escape. Having fewer escape points traps evacuees. This type of scenario greatly benefits attackers, providing them a rich environment of targets.

Evacuation is Always the First Response

During mass shootings, the thought process is simple: if you’re not there, they can’t get you. It’s also the only situation where barricades/lockdowns can work. An empty facility forces an attacker to search for victims, which buys students more time.

The chaos from the initial moments works in favor of the victims. Through a reverse fire drill, people run back to the building or to relocate, which is another way to survive. Students should always be out of the shooter’s sight.

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Apply Window Films Only When Appropriate

Will the liberal application of security films over windows work in your favor? In some cases, it won’t.

During mass evacuations, windows also serve as exits. Unfortunately, some buildings have windows that allow only minimal airflow. These types of windows have minimal to no openings, which makes escape difficult. Covering these windows with too much film traps room occupants, creating a kill box for shooters.

Using shatter proof films is appropriate for hallway doors and windows. To open more access for students, refrain from using film everywhere.

Sometimes, the bad guys are students inside the schools. Planning shouldn’t occur after the incident—it starts now.