Inside/Outside Lockdown Approach Prone to Failure

Location-based lockdowns are unreliable and potentially dangerous.

One of the reasons for such a high fail rate was that employees were having trouble fitting the action step of lockdown to various scenarios such as:

  • An out of control woman threatening employees with a knife in the front office
  • An angry and intoxicated man waving a handgun and approaching a group of students outside of a school
  • An emotionally disturbed woman with a butcher knife threatening employees in the building
  • An intoxicated man with a large metal crowbar in a hallway
  • An intruder who refuses to stop and identify himself after multiple requests to do so as he barges by two school employees

Along with schools that only have one lockdown option – emergency lockdown based on dire situations such as an active shooter – this approach to is among the most prone to failure under the circumstances where most school lockdowns are required. Keeping in mind that the vast majority of lockdowns actually implemented in U.S. schools are for situations other than targeted acts of violence (commonly referred to as active shooter situations), it is important that school lockdown protocols be designed to be easily remembered and implemented by any and every employee in a school. A critical point here is that situations that should prompt a lockdown often occur out of sight of the main office. 

I know those who have adopted the philosophy of inside- and outside-based protocols for lockdown may have a hard time appreciating this viewpoint. I realize that it is even harder to make such a change when an organization has printed hundreds or even thousands of plan components outlining this approach. At the same time, I have seen this approach fail so regularly and so badly that I feel an obligation to help people question this approach it before it is too late.   

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Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

About the Author

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Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at mike@weakfish.org. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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