POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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2 1 WHEN A GUNMAN shot and killed 20 sixth graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elemen- tary School in 2012, it shook up the entire nation. But since then, the Gun Violence Ar- chive, a nonprofit that tracks school shootings, reports there have been at least 239 school shootings nationwide. In these events, 438 people were shot, 138 of whom lost their lives. However, statistics like these and the media reports about them are oen somewhat skewed, states Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Ha- vens International, a non-profit campus safety organization committed to helping schools and school systems improve cri- sis preparedness and campus safety. He explains that when most people hear the words "school shooting," they picture the rarest type of school shootings, the ones that "get the most media attention; the Sandy Hooks, Parkland and Columbine types of events. "But the reality is that 92% of people murdered on K-12 cam- puses are not killed in active shooter events but rather in the far more typical single victim event," he says. "is is a very important distinction because anytime a shooting happens there is a tendency to treat it as an active shooter event, which makes sense. But once police arrive on-scene, and find it's not that type of situation, it can change their response, especially in terms of clearing the building." at being said, Dorn reports key areas to address through preplanning, just in case an event is indeed a mass shooting. FIND YOUR WAY One of the items topping Dorn's list is wayfinding. A lot of schools are very vast in size. For instance, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, is an approximately 43- acre campus with around 13 buildings. "Some high schools have up to 5,000 students," Dorn says. "With that many students, the sheer size of the building can make wayfinding challenging, especially if officers are unfa- miliar with the layout." Dorn recommends mark- ing exterior entry doors. Some agencies, he says, also mark classroom windows, which he advises against. "When you look at statistics, it's far more common to have a relational homicide, where an ex-boy- friend or girlfriend shows up to kill a student or employee. Marking the classroom win- dows can let the attacker know where the person they intend to shoot is within the building." ABOUT GAINING ACCESS "Today, it is essential to deter- mine how police will gain ac- cess before an incident occurs," Dorn emphasizes. "More and more schools are using forced entry protection on glass, so it's become harder to get in with- out keys or keycards. In the past you could blow the door glass with an AR-15 or force entry by smashing a window. Now that's become a little more difficult." Preplanning should give police access to either master keys or proximity cards, he says. ere are a variety of ways to do this. Many times, schools place Knox Boxes, or wall-mounted safes for emergency access keys, outside the front entrance. However, state laws oen ban police access to these boxes. When this is the case, schools can mount a second Knox Box on the perimeter for police use. "Police officers may not want to go right up to a front en- tryway with a lot of glass anyway, and that's why a second box, painted blue and mounted on the perimeter, makes sense," he says. "With that approach, officers can use a code, which is of- ten sealed and given out by dispatch when a call goes out. Or, there are a number of products available where police carry a device that can unlock the box in their squad cars." Other rural schools issue police master keys. Some schools operate remote electronic unlocking systems that allow them to buzz in people during the day. Dorn recom- mends establishing additional points from which employees can do that. "We teach our clients to have what we call a safe room so that if office staff feels threatened, they can retreat to that space, lock the door, and put a barrier up between them and an aggres- C R I T ICA L I NC I D E N T R E S P O N S E | SP E C I A L R E P O RT | 13 EFFECTIVELY RESPONDING TO INCIDENTS ON K-12 CAMPUSES REQUIRES FAMILIARIZATION WITH SCHOOL ACCESS, SURVEILLANCE, AND PARENT REUNIFICATION PLANS. W PHOTO: POLICE FILE RONNIE WENDT

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