Your Key to Effective Lockdowns

One of the most basic and important functional protocols for academic environments is the lockdown, yet no one solution can meet the needs of every campus or district. There are some best practices, however, that can be followed so the appropriate procedures and policies are implemented.

Many concerns, considerations and contradictions exist in the area of lockdown procedures for schools, colleges, universities and technical colleges. Protocols must be developed to fit local conditions, including risk levels, a variety of building designs, divergent law enforcement response capabilities, available technology and other considerations.

Remember: No Protocol Is Perfect
Lockdown procedures dominate discussions relating to emergency preparedness for campus organizations. Most people in our society, including young children, know what the term means and what it implies.

Despite the benefits of this awareness, there is a down side. There is a tendency for many people to “what if” lockdown protocols to the point of gridlock. For example, one technical college security director recently lamented that his crisis planning committee had become incapacitated by committee members who came up with a seemingly endless stream of scenarios to find fault with the lockdown scenarios that had been developed. The team quickly figured out that the lockdown protocols would be too cumbersome and confusing for effective application under stress to be viable if they attempted to address the wide range of scenarios dreamed up by some committee members.

Account for the Effects of Stress on Staff
Lockdown protocols, training and drills should be created with the understanding that staff and students may have to implement them under extreme pressure. This can result in a loss of fine motor skills, such as a teacher having trouble inserting a key into a lock as well as a substantial loss of cognitive reasoning ability.

Simple things like a poorly formatted emergency chart can make protocols difficult to apply under the stress of a major crisis. New security technologies and good quality training and drills can help reduce the problems associated with extreme stress.

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About the Author


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 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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