POLICE Magazine Supplements

Special Report 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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SPECIAL REPORT: KEEPING SCHOOLS SAFE 9 lock when an alarm is sounded. One respondent believed each school employee should have access to a panic button simi- lar to the ones some people wear in their homes to alert their alarm companies if they have an emergency. e panic button would alert police in case of an incident and sound an alarm in the school, warning students and staff. Another respondent wanted schools to be equipped with drop-down barriers that would trap shooters in a single hallway when the alarm sounds and prevent them from gaining access to the rest of the school. ARMING STAFF B eyond issues of gun control, one of the most contentious ar- guments about school safety in America is whether training and arming staff—teachers, coaches, and administrators—would be a deterrent to school attacks or at least mitigate the body count. POLICE asked this question in the March survey. About 50% of respondents support training and arming teachers and other staff, 24% oppose it, and 26% say only staff with previous mili- tary or law enforcement training should be considered for such a program. Arming teachers was also a popular answer to our open- ended question of how to prevent school shootings. Another popular idea was allowing armed civilian volunteers, particu- larly retired law enforcement and military, to patrol schools. People who advocate arming school staff to stop school shootings, generally envision giving them the right to carry handguns on campus following training. But some respon- dents wanted to give school employees more firepower, includ- ing rifles and pistol caliber carbines that are locked in biomet- ric safes in the classrooms. Currently, in some jurisdictions, even sworn school resource officers do not have easy access to long guns in the event of a school shooting. Two SROs responded to the survey and said their rifles have to be locked in their patrol vehicles in the park- ing lots of the schools they serve. "I can't imagine running away to my car to get my rifle should a shooter enter my building," one SRO wrote. "My school has three 100-yard hallways where I will be taking shots with my pistol, if necessary. Put gun safes in SRO offices where rifles can be accessible," the SRO recom- mends. However, the SRO disagrees with the concept of arming teachers. "Just can't imagine doing that in some of our high schools. What happens if a couple of teens jump a teacher to get the gun?" Another respondent said arming teachers is not a good idea and that fighting the shooter should be left to of- ficers. However, the respondent believes it would save lives if staff at schools were to receive first-aid training and be issued tourniquets. OFFICERS ON CAMPUS I t's little surprise that the single-most popular response by the readers of POLICE to the question of how to prevent school shootings and improve law enforcement response to such incidents was to put more officers in schools. Many re- spondents said every school should have at least one armed SRO on campus during school hours. Some said at least two SROs should be placed in every school. Many respondents said that current SRO programs do not emphasize tactical response training for the officers. One said that all SROs should be trained to respond to active shooters according to the Department of Homeland Security Advanced Active Shooter program. Even if SROs have active shooter response training, some respondents believe their presence at the school is not enough to deter school shootings. One respondent wrote it would be a good idea for officers on patrol to go to schools and periodically walk the hallways. Another thought locating police substations at schools would prevent school shootings. It's unlikely that school administrators would support many of these ideas, including adding more armed officers on campus. At many schools, administrators insist on a no-gun policy for se- curity personnel even for sworn officers. Many respondents de- cried such policies as naïve and dangerous for the students, the staff, and the unarmed officers and security guards. H We asked our readers what they would do to prevent school shootings and improve law enforcement response to such incidents, and we got a lot of interesting answers. SAFER? David Griffith

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