Don’t Believe the Hype: Lockdowns Work

Lockdown/shelter in place is a very effective civilian response to active shooters.

Don’t Believe the Hype: Lockdowns Work

Image via Adobe, by Thomas

Editor’s Note: Recently, Campus Safety has been reviewing our past articles, finding that many of them still apply today. Case in point is this editorial I wrote back in 2016 on lockdowns and guns on campus. This article, as well as many others run over the years on prove that as much as things change, many have remained the same.

I recently watched a PBS documentary on Wallis Simpson, the divorced female American socialite who married former King Edward VIII of England and for whom he abdicated his throne in the 1930s. Up until I watched the documentary, I had assumed the rumors of Simpson being a gold digger, Nazi sympathizer and woman with less-than-admirable morals were true.

However, I learned that those rumors were based either on speculation or claims by individuals who were threatened by her or had some other peculiar agenda.  The rumors had very little, if any, basis in fact.

Truth be told, Simpson was an orphaned child, domestic abuse survivor (her first husband was a violent alcoholic) and the product of a time when women had few rights. Did she make mistakes? Certainly. But she doesn’t deserve the reputation that many of us have attributed to her without any investigation of the facts.

Wallis Simpson’s experience is a good example of how easy it is for unsubstantiated claims to become “the truth” when such allegations are supported by a powerful group of people (in Simpson’s case, the clergy and royal family) or confirm our own prejudices (in Simpson’s case, British society’s sexist views of women in the 1930s).

Misperceptions About Lockdowns Persist Despite the Facts

Fast forward to 2016, and we’re seeing the lightning-fast spread of misinformation about various people and topics via the Internet and news media. One topic that is currently a target of this rumor mill is lockdowns/shelter-in-place.

It seems as though many individuals who are active on social media believe that lockdowns don’t work and that the only solution is for civilians to carry guns. They are mistaken.

History has shown us over and over again that practically everyone who has been able to put a locked interior door between themselves and an active shooter has lived. Those are the facts. Lockdowns (and evacuations, if appropriate) are the most effective civilian responses to active shooters.

Are locks that enable students, clinicians, faculty, staff and administrators to shelter in place the perfect solution? Of course not. There will certainly be times when locked doors will be defeated by someone.  That being said, locks are the most effective and economical way to mitigate the carnage caused by guns and other types of weapons. What’s more, they also prevent crimes that your institution will be more likely to experience, such as vandalism and theft.

It should be noted that when adopting locking and door hardware solutions, campuses should follow some common best practices. These include installing commercial-grade locks that are code compliant, standardizing equipment across an organization, maintaining the equipment that’s been installed, considering the adoption of card access to increase security, and adopting policies and procedures to ensure the locks will be used appropriately.

Adopting lockdown solutions is one of the best ways you can keep your school, university of hospital safe. The claims I’ve read online that lockdowns don’t work and that everyone on campus should be carrying a gun are dangerous and not supported by the facts. Don’t believe them.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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