Despite the avalanche of sensational news coverage, I have not seen solid news reports about mass murders in our schools. We need to know where these murderers come from. We also need to know how to protect our students at school. I’ll try to cover that information, and this is the second of those two parts.
Part 1: the source of modern mass murder
Part 2: protecting our schools and churches
2-Protecting our schools and churches
Our safety policy does not match our rhetoric. We say that innocent lives are important. We may even write laws, regulations, rules and procedures that could protect the innocent. Words are notoriously cheap. All too often that isn’t how we act. Now is the time to measure the difference between what we do and what we know we should do.
• Safety Audit- That is why it is important to start with a safety audit that determines the truth on the ground. Ask your local school board or the governing body of your church when they last had a safety audit of their campus. What were the results, and were the audit recommendations implemented?
• Door locks- Is there a plan to control access to the campus? Do strangers have to enter the building through the main office? Can teachers secure their classrooms? Can staff secure their offices?
• Windows and doors- Have they upgraded the building with shatterproof glass and door panels?
• Fire alarms- Murderers are using the fire alarm to flush innocent victims into the open where they can be attacked. Is there a plan in place to verify the emergency before the alarm sounds in the building?
• Emergency response drills with LEO and medical responders- Times have changed. We don’t sit back and wait as people die inside a building. Ask for an emergency response drill. Have the drill evaluated by safety experts who know best practice.
• Armed officers and armed school staff- We need an armed responder in every building. We want to have a responder on every hallway. We don’t always get what we want. Use trained volunteers if you can’t afford enough armed officers.
• Are your people protected all the time? We want to provide security whenever the building is open and occupied. Are your people protected as they travel on official outings or to attend events?
• First aid kits and emergency trauma training- The goal is to keep injured people alive until the scene is secure and EMTs take over care. The kit should include compression bandages, tourniquets and chest seals.
• Medical training for school staff, including evacuation- A first aid kit is only as good as the person using it. For each armed responder, we’d ideally have several additional staff members who are trained in emergency trauma care. Implementing an armed responder program might take months. Consider that you can provide medical training to school staff this weekend.
• How are harassment and threats reported and acted on? How does the staff communicate about suspicious activity? How should the community contact the church or school with their concerns?
• Are you following the rules you’ve already set down?
The greatest of these is all of them together.
The greatest pitfall is in waiting for the perfect plan before taking action. Just because you can’t staff your pre-school with volunteer secret service agents is no reason to delay. You assume a known risk every day when you fail to protect your people. Putting a flawed and incomplete plan in place today will reduce that risk. Implement an imperfect and affordable plan today…and improve on it tomorrow. All plans are incomplete. Every security officer will tell you there is more he wants to work on to make his people safer.
As surprising as this claim may sound, armed and trained staff can cost a school or church almost nothing. Act now.
That is best practice as I know it today. What do you think? I gave you 600 words. Please leave a comment. RM