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School Shooting Prevention, Response, Mitigation, and Recovery Resources

The following practices are generally recommended for schools to 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)

Tuesday’s Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has prompted many of you to review your school security and safety programs. Some of you may be new to the Campus Safety community.

Although the full details of this tragedy have not come to light yet, we do know from our years covering K-12 security, public safety, and emergency management that the following practices are generally recommended for schools to address active shooter and campus shooting prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery. Adopting these measures will also help to prevent or mitigate other emergencies that occur on campus.

It should be noted that according to news reports, many of the following practices and measures were adopted and implemented by the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District. Despite this, Tuesday’s active shooter massacre still happened.

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.

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The recommendations are:

  • Improve access control and, if possible, build a secure vestibule that funnels all visitors through one entrance.
  • 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

 General

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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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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