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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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Jan 9, 2013 12:50AM

Give the kids another button to push? Just pull the Fire alarm they are already installed and the police should be responding any way. Bullet proof windows, Never seen a window open in a school have you. Don't forget the alligator filled mote.

 Teach the teachers to be more alert and stop flirting during the school day.

Jan 9, 2013 12:39AM
Bullet proof glass should be mandatory in every school, I agree.

It would be more effective to move toward mandatory "PANIC ROOMS" to be constructed within every school system.

Metal Detectors should be in tact at every entrance setting off an alarm to police and state law enforcement when triggered.

Our children and every single person entering a school should be subjected to the same scrutiny as we now have at our airports, including school employees.

If our schools have to "LOOK LIKE" correctional facilities than let it be.  Safety is the issue, not what it "Looks like."  Once inside, it could look like the Ritz .. but the ability to get inside, should by all means be INTIMIDATING.

An armed Security Guard assigned for every entrance.


Working at a School. I can say you can throw a lot of money toward security
,most school here i can walk into most doors not even be noticed. The lady at front desk is on the phone working at a coping machine you go threw, undetected. You can go to any classroom door and there will be 10 kids ready to let you in from the  out side door.( First someone here said it best how far are you Gonne go  prison). First common since, People all doors locked only one entree. Front Entre threw two doors a buzzer at second door if they do not belong or are trying to raise hell in school lock  first door auto lock there trapped police called problem solved. A camera at entree when buzzer rings principal and secretary decide if that person is able to enter. sure they both Principals and secretary will bitch .it takes two seconds and may save a life.
Jan 9, 2013 12:36AM
Is it feasible for groups comprised of retired law enforcement and/or military to "volunteer to "guard" our schools?
Jan 9, 2013 12:35AM
Bulletproof glass and panic buttons are a start.  But when a gun can shoot 6 rounds per second, the minutes it takes for police to arrive (or even for an armed "volunteer"/vigilante by the front door) would still be too long.  Which is why we need to ban these assault weapons and massive gun magazines -- they are needed for nothing except mass destruction of human beings.
Jan 9, 2013 12:17AM
When the Panic button is pushed how long before the Police arrive. This is about 10 seconds faster than calling 911. I am sure that there will be no mistakes or False Alarms
Jan 9, 2013 12:15AM

Major Payne et all:

  I agree that arming teachers is probably the stupidest idea I have heard in years.  I am a very ardent supporter of the 2nd amendment but only under the conditions of training,  proven understanding,  physiological evaluation, and demonstrated need to carry a weapon in public .  

  The  wireless type of "panic button similar to those advertised for the elderly for emergency calling for help sounds like a relatively inexpensive possibility for teachers and school personnel to have. 

  All schools SHOULD have metal cased 3 hour fire rated doors for all classrooms and key to open lock systems are readily available. 

  The idea of using desktops as shields is new to me but sounds like a great idea.  Good thinking!

  But a plan, in place and understood,  and drills are the best answer .  All school have fire drills and to add lockdown drills are just a sign of our times.  

  We SURE DO NOt need inexperienced armed teachers  in class rooms!  Think about a child or angry teen getting hold of the teacher' s weapon,  all the plans just went out the window!  

Jan 9, 2013 12:15AM
Hmmm...... Panic button and what will the response time be? 5 minutes and during this time an armed madman is blazing away at anything that moves. VERY BAD PLAN and THOUGHT. Lets REALLY think this through of what would ACTUALLY WORK!! HMMMM...... HOW ABOUT PANIC ROOMS wouldnt take much to make one in each corner of every class room.........
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