POLICE Magazine Supplements

Special Report 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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8 SPECIAL REPORT: KEEPING SCHOOLS SAFE I n March, POLICE conducted a survey of its read- ers to sound out their opinions on gun control and school shootings. e survey, which was sent to more than 43,000 readers, included this open-ended question: "What measures would you take to prevent school shootings or improve response to them?" More than 1,500 self-identified law enforcement officers took the time to write an answer to that question. Here's a summation of their answers. THREAT IDENTIFICATION/ASSESSMENT M any officers said they felt the most effective means of pre- venting school shootings is to identify people who are a threat to perpetrate such terrible acts before they actually carry them out. Conventionally, the public tends to think of mental health professionals and mental health facilities performing such threat assessments, but most officers who touted this ap- proach to preventing school shootings acknowledged such as- sets are not available. So they believe the best way to discover potential school shooters before they go active is through information from the staff and more importantly the students at the affected schools. "Students know who the dangerous people are at their schools, and they need to be encouraged to report their concerns," wrote one respondent. Many respondents agreed with that statement. And some even suggested a nationwide hotline that students could use to report their suspicions. ey envision a system that would alert both law enforcement and school administrators that the callers are fearful of possible attacks on their campuses and concerned about the behavior of other students. "We have to encourage students to say something if they see something," one respondent wrote, adding that law enforcement has to fol- low through on these warnings. HARDEN THE TARGETS S ome respondents wrote that school shootings are inevita- ble in contemporary America. ey said their reasons for holding such a pessimistic view on the issue include: the free access to firearms, the lack of mental health facilities that can treat people inclined to commit such atrocities, the prevalence of violent films and video games in youth culture, the decline of morality and empathy among younger people, and the alien- ation that some teenagers feel in their schools. Officers who believe that school shootings are a fact of con- temporary life say one of the best ways to stop them from tak- ing a toll is to harden the potential targets. Making the targets tougher to reach begins with access control. Respondents say the schools should reduce the number of ingress and egress points used by students and staff and set up metal detectors and video surveillance to monitor who is coming in and pre- vent them from bringing weapons with them. All other doors out of the school building would be emergency exits only. Some respondents even argue that the federal government should establish a program similar to the Transportation Se- curity Administration (TSA) to safeguard schools. ese offi- cials would check student IDs before admitting them into the building. Such a proposal would be extremely expensive, as there are many more schools than airports, and the respon- dents who wrote about it admitted that drawback but said it was worth the cost. To protect students in the event of a shooting, some respon- dents want to see classrooms equipped with doors that provide ballistic protection from both pistol and rifle rounds and that HOW WOULD YOU MAKE SCHOOLS POLICE Survey:

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