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Districts look to beef up school safety with panic buttons, bullet-proof glass

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, many schools are taking measures to beef-up security.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Jan 8, 2013 7:28PM

Not surprisingly, school districts across the country are taking a closer look at their security plans in the wake of the Connecticut mass shooting. Talks range from installing panic buttons and bullet-proof glass to evaluating safety procedures and running extra lockdown drills.

Photo: Steve Hamblin/AlamyIn Connecticut, 850 school and police officials, as well as parents, school board members and others met in Southington on Monday to gain insights from national experts about how to make schools more secure, reports The Hartford Courant.

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Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, one of the groups that organized the conference, was quoted "We just want to make sure people know what the facts are on a variety of issues, to help them have an informed conversation instead of one overridden by emotion."

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Although the West Hartford School District already has a buzzer entry system and cameras in place, they’re headed toward installing a panic button, which if pressed, would alert teachers of the need to lock down certain sections of the building and summon the police.

Jennings Smith, a Canton-based firm that provides school security services, has experienced a swell in interest since the Newtown shooting. Owner Bill Smith said that starting on the night of the tragedy, he has gotten calls from districts all across the country.

But, a creating good security plan is a complicated undertaking. It requires hardware and other security products, as well as the human element of people, policies and procedures, Smith said. It’s also important to take a "reasoned approach,” Smith was quoted. “You can ramp up to the point where you start making schools look like correctional facilities.”

What measures do you think schools should (or shouldn’t) take to increase security?

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Photo: Steve Hamblin/Alamy

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217Comments
Jan 9, 2013 12:14AM
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Let's go. All the school districts are flush with cash and the Teachers Union can ay what the school district can not.
Jan 9, 2013 12:14AM
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Best idea, I've heard yet. I think all schools should have this.
Jan 9, 2013 12:06AM
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the columbine shooting was done primarily with a shot gun and a hand gun.  They also had explosive devices.  These guns were purchased illegally. Also make note that they used 10 round magazines which they were able to shoot upwards of 100 times.  If you want to compare Columbine with Sandy Hook they are totally different.  The officers responding did not have adequate firepower.  Nor were they inside the building.  1 officer was on patrol the other in the parking lot.  When fired on the suspects ran from the police.  If panic buttons and cameras were employed at the school police would have been alerted earlier.  Also this was during the assault weapons ban and did not stop these misguided kids.
Jan 8, 2013 11:58PM
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In the months prior to the attacks, Harris and Klebold acquired two firearms and two shotguns. Their friend Robyn Anderson bought a rifle and the two shotguns at the Tanner Gun Show in December 1998. Through Robert Duran, another friend, Harris and Klebold later bought a handgun from Mark Manes for $500.

Using instructions acquired upon the Internet, Harris and Klebold constructed a total of 99 of various designs and sizes. They sawed the barrels and butts off their shotguns to make them easier to conceal. They committed numerous felony violations of state and federal law, including the and the , before they began the massacre.

On April 20, Harris was equipped with a 12-gauge Savage-Springfield 67H , (which he discharged a total of 25 times) and a 9 mm carbine with thirteen 10-round magazines, which he fired a total of 96 times.

Klebold was equipped with a handgun with one 52-, one 32-, and one 28-round magazine and a 12-gauge 311D double-barreled . Klebold primarily fired the TEC-9 handgun, for a total of 55 times.

Jan 8, 2013 11:52PM
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A panic button is not the worst idea, but it is not the greatest. The facets of any security program must build upon three core elements, which include architecture, technology and operations. Of these, the operations are the most important. Schools need to implement stringent awareness/anti-bulling programs, comingled with architectural compartmentalization and communication during an incident. Finally, technology can aid in the management of an incident, but should not be the only "quick-fix". Clearly many existing schools today are not designed with security in mind.

 

As a radical idea, I wonder if a protection dog and the psychological perception of unpredictability would add another degree of deterrence to a would be aggressor.

 

However, this obviously opens up another case of worms. I do not recommend that teachers are armed, as they will not know how to respond, and may become victims during an initial police response, misinterpreting the teacher as the aggressor. No matter what we do, we CANNOT prevent this from occurring, all we can do is initially deter the incident and place controls, which will add time allowing for detection/response.

 

 

 

 

As a radical idea, I wonder if a protection dog and the psychological perception of unpredictability would add another degree of deterrence to a would be aggressor.

 

However, this obviously opens up another case of worms. I do not recommend that teachers are armed, as they will not know how to respond, and may become victims during an initial police response, misinterpreting the teacher as the aggressor. No matter what we do, we CANNOT prevent this from occurring, all we can do is initially deter the incident and place controls, which will add time allowing for detection/response.

 

Jan 8, 2013 11:49PM
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All you people are out of your minds! A bullet to the head is the only thing that is going to stop a shooter in a class room. A panic button is no better that calling the police on your phone. An armed guard at the schools is the ONLY solution!
Jan 8, 2013 11:44PM
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the problem with the nra proposal is two fold. one armed guards did'nt help at colombine or virginia tech. no one solution can stop a well motivated shooter. there is no way to make a school 100% safe. thats just reality. but you can do things to lessen the likelyhood of a mass shooting. thats about as far as you can go. 100% safety is an unreachable goal. a well motivated nut can always find a way
Jan 8, 2013 11:39PM
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panic buttons seem like a reasonable no brainer. may need in more than one location within the school but a good idea. anything that helps is worth trying. having some armed people within a scholl is not a bad idea although most teachers are'nt trained to be security guards but some may be of help. the last thing you need is a teacher without training and a brain shooting up the place
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