Dated October,12 2015
By Warren Pulley
CEO, RyPul Threat Assessments
Los Angeles, CA Securing school campuses around the country has become a major point of contention, with each side of the debate entrenched in the fact that they believe their ideas are the best and most reasonable. But the first thing school systems need to do is to stop designing protection plans as if active shooters are merely visitors to our campuses, when, in fact, they are killers at large.
Both sides do have some degree of support in their respective circles of influence, and in some cases, what each side is proposing just may work on a small, district-sized scale. For instance, I often hear gun rights advocates supporting the idea of arming teachers as one of the most effective means of protection for our children while at school. While this approach may have some effect on the active shooter, that shooter would have to encounter the armed teacher who is adequately trained to square off and stand in the line of fire with an armed intruder, and fire well-placed, consistent shots under pressure. If all of those factors can be achieved them there is room for a measure of success.
However, in my professional opinion as a former police officer and current worldwide protective specialist, training a teacher to that level of profiency may require more instruction than most teachers or school systems are willing to dedicate. On the other hand, I do support the deployment of more armed school resource officers and directed police patrols as a way to help in the deterrence of armed violence. But in most cases, there are just not enough police professionals available to make a noticeable difference in the response times needed to make this approach effective as anything other than highly visible window dressing.
Then we come to the other side of the debate that insists on increased video surveillance, key card scanners, mental health legislation, limited entry and exit ways, metal detectors, student badges, etc. Now, all of these things can make a difference – if used correctly all of the time, maintained in proper working order, are fully funded, and are used in conjunction with armed security staff. We must remember that active shooters or armed intruders do not follow the standard protocol of using designated entry ways, nor do they wear badges that can be scanned, or stand in line to be processed into the school campus, or even really care about the presence of school video surveillance systems. Active shooters arrive on our campuses with one single-minded purpose: to inflict as many causalities as possible in the shortest amount of time before the arrival of highly trained, paid and competent security professionals.
And while the argument continues to rage about who is right or wrong, or best suited to draft policies that mitigate the loss of life and property damage on our school campuses, the active shooter is only doing one thing: planning their next attack regardless of school policy, procedure or practice.
The active shooter will engage our children while they stand outside in perfect lines to be processed into our wholly unsecure campuses. The active shooter will do the evil deed of killing our children while being watched by the overpriced, high-definition camera systems that our school systems have purchased to watch and record the murder of our children. And afterward, parents, educators and security professionals will launch into the debate about what to do.
I recently learned that a school system in this great nation came to the conclusion that the best way to deter a school shooter is to simply “move the doors on each of its campuses to a new location within the building.” I am supposing that this idea will somehow confuse the shooter and cause them to just forego their intent? I shook my head in disbelief while reading the article, and wondered just how idiotic we as a society have become. And don’t get me started on one Alabama school district’s idea of simply having its children “throw canned goods at its armed intruders;” what poppycock.
The answer to our questions is extremely simple. Let’s no longer debate the issue about the so-called “militarized look of our campuses,” as we already have that in place in nearly every school in the country with our high wire fences, armed security staffs, metal detector entry points, roving armed patrols, locked metal gates, key carded entryways and high frequency radios. Let’s simply utilize the current technology in place today. Passive ballistic protection products are on the market which are already offered to police officers, food service workers, airline pilots and bank employees. This low visibility and high protection option has become the gold standard for protecting against gun violence around the world. Passive ballistic protection works. Debate over.