Experts: More security awareness training needed in schools

Active shooter incident at Ga. elementary school proves more needs to be done to improve security

“Knowing that 82 percent of these active shooter incidents (are perpetrated) by people that already have access to the school and are committed by these people; we can create a Fort Knox, but we’re still not going to prevent everything,” Baker added. “We have to have layers and the first would be access control, which is what this school had and then a very comprehensive plan for what to do when lockdown fails. Most of the mass casualty incidents that have occurred across the country where we have loss of life is because of one of two things: Either there was a lockdown failure and they didn’t know what to do or they just never recognized that lockdown was failing. Sandy Hook would be an example of lockdown failure.”

In addition, Timm said that schools need focus on improving access control and emergency communications. “I think if we’re focusing on those two areas… we can’t help but improve,” he said

Both Timm and Baker emphasized the importance of training teachers and administrators about what they can do to better protect themselves and their students.

“We have to do security awareness training. Many people have started this school year, there will be some new measures in place because of initiatives over the summer, but what we don’t do in schools is a good job of communicating what we now have in place and why it’s going to make the building safer and how to implement it in a fashion that will make the building safer,” said Timm. “For example, I see schools all the time that have electronic access control and all they did with the staff was give them a card and say, ‘you’re now only able to come in between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.’ But we didn’t tell them we shouldn’t hold the door open for somebody else, we didn’t tell them if they lose their card they have to let us know immediately because it’s like having a key in the community. We didn’t tell them all kinds of things like this and until we work on security awareness training, we’re going to have gaps.”

Baker said that it’s more important than ever for schools to remain vigilant about the security protocols they have in place.

“It’s been eight months now since Sandy Hook and we’re already seeing people start to get lax again,” Baker said. “It seems like it takes an incident like this to get people thinking about these issues and to remain with that consistent vigilance towards never being satisfied with what your plans are and having that focus to continually look at what the trends are by attackers.”