School Shooting Prevention, Response, Mitigation, and Recovery Resources

Adopting the following recommended practices will help schools address the threat of active shooters as well as other K-12 security concerns.

School Shooting Prevention, Response, Mitigation, and Recovery Resources

(Photo: ottawawebdesign, Adobe Stock)

In light of the school shooting that happened at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee today, we’re reposting the following article. It covers many of the recommended practices that schools should adopt to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from active shooter attacks as well as other campus security incidents.

No school security program is infallible, and there are things in our communities, as well as state and federal laws that schools can’t control. The following practices, however, should decrease your school’s chances of a foreseeable tragedy happening on campus, including a school shooting.

The recommendations are:

  • Improve access control and, if possible, build a secure vestibule that funnels all visitors through one entrance. (IMPORTANT: When bolstering access control, also ensure first responders, such as law enforcement and fire, are still able to access campus during a lockdown. Do they have keys, access cards, or some other way they can quickly enter a classroom, office, or any area on campus experiencing a security or safety issue? This will help them more effectively respond to situations, such as a barricaded suspect, fire, etc.)
  • Deploy metal detectors at sporting events, concerts, political speeches, etc. Consider randomly using weapons detection technology on K-12 campuses during school hours.
  • Install locks on classroom doors that lock from the inside. Be sure to follow all applicable codes and laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes, etc.
  • Consider installing window security film in appropriate areas, being careful not to hinder building evacuation during emergencies.
  • Hire a qualified and experienced security contractor/systems integrator that understands and follows all codes and regulations to install all security, public safety, and life safety systems and equipment.
  • Train students, faculty, staff, and clinicians how to properly identify and respond to active shooters and other campus emergencies.
  • Regularly conduct drills and exercises that address a wide variety of hazards and incidents, not just active shooters.
  • Install visitor management systems that screen guests.
  • Have teachers and staff members carry panic buttons.
  • Install or update emergency communication and notification equipment
  • Create a multi-disciplinary threat assessment and threat management team.
  • Partner with local first responders so they can effectively and quickly respond to a campus emergency. This should happen long before an incident happens.
  • Hire school resource officers (SROs) or campus police officers, provide them with appropriate training, and then arm them.
  • Adopt Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts.
  • Train faculty, staff, administrators, and public safety officers on verbal de-escalation techniques.
  • Deploy security cameras that campus police and/or local law enforcement can tap into during an incident. The evidence provided by video surveillance systems is also extremely useful during investigations of incidents.
  • Conduct background checks on all teachers, staff, volunteers, and vendors.
  • Have on staff enough school psychologists, social workers, and counselors so individuals exhibiting concerning behavior get the help they need before they resort to violence against themselves, against others, or both.
  • Develop emergency plans and keep them current.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with students, faculty, staff, clinicians, nurses, and others in the community so they feel comfortable reporting the concerning behavior of others.
  • Adopt anonymous tip phone lines and text messaging services.
  • Have the ability to effectively and quickly reunite students with their parents or legal guardians.
  • After an incident, provide long-term mental health services to students, staff members, and faculty.
  • Develop policies and procedures to support all of the solutions you’ve adopted and then regularly train and re-train all campus personnel on how to implement and follow them.

This list is in no way complete or perfect. Like all of you, we at Campus Safety are constantly looking for new and better ways to make campuses safer. That said, it’s a good start for novices to campus security. It also serves as an important reminder to school security veterans.

Additionally, here are some specific resources that might be helpful:

 Lessons Learned from Other School Active Shooter Attacks

Threat Assessment/Management

Weapons Detection

Campus Visitor Management

Student, Staff Member, Police Officer Mental Health

Access Control


If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

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.

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo