Survey: Sandy Hook Tragedy Prompted Significant Changes in School Security

Last December’s Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting prompted nearly nine in 10 K-12 respondents and more than one in two university and hospital respondents to make changes in their public safety programs. Other large-scale emergencies, however, didn’t result in as much action by campuses.

Reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting was the overwhelming theme of the campus protection community this year, according to Campus Safety magazine’s latest research. A significant percentage of all educational and healthcare institutions made or plan to make at least some public safety, security or emergency management changes in response to the December 2012 tragedy.

Not surprisingly, schools and districts were the organizations most responsive. More than two in five (41%) Campus Safety K-12 survey takers say they made or will make many changes in response to the Newtown, Conn., active shooter incident, while 47% say they will make or have made some alterations. The total percentage of K-12 respondents implementing revisions, big or small, comes to 88%. (Story continues below)

88% of K-12 respondents say they made or will make changes to their security, public safety or emergency management programs as a result of the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting last December.

Those security improvements could include installing new, more or better access control systems, radio communications with first responders, panic alarms, intercoms, emergency notification systems, window glazing, video surveillance, fences or locks. They might include a complete redesign of the campus front entrance so that all visitors coming onto campus must enter through one well-monitored door. They might include more training of security personnel and campus administrators and staff. Some districts were prompted to start an SRO program or hire more school safety officers. For the schools that already had robust security programs, the changes could be as simple as locking classroom doors while classes are in session.

List of School Security Upgrades Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School Mass Shooting

The reactions to Sandy Hook by hospitals and institutions of higher education, although not as dramatic, were still significant. More than half (52%) of both types of organizations indicate they made or will make at least some modifications to their security, public safety or emergency management programs. Nine percent say they made or will make many changes, while 43% say they made or will make some revisions. (Story continues below.)

52% of university and hospital respondents say they made or plan to implement at least some modifications to their security, public safety or emergency management programs in reaction to Sandy Hook.

The Newtown, Conn., mass shooting, however, wasn’t the only tragedy that occurred this past year. Hurricane Sandy that struck the East Coast in October 2012; the Boston Marathon bombing and West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion in April; the EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Okla., in May; and the Santa Monica (Calif.) College mass shooting in June were all significant emergencies. University, hospital and school reactions to these disasters, however, were not as substantial as their reactions to Sandy Hook. That being said, a large minority of respondents (27% to 39%, depending on the incident) were prompted to make changes.

The one exception was the West, Texas, plant explosion. Only 12% of Campus Safety readers say it prompted changes to their public safety programs. This may be due to the timing of the disaster, which was when the entire nation was focused on the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath. Although the West, Texas explosion was massive and devastating, it probably didn’t receive the media exposure — or response by campuses — it warranted.

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About the Author

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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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