Even though he has worked with schools for decades, helping them enhance their security and reduce threats, and consulting on bulletproof school entryways, Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards is still sobered by the latest numbers: School shootings resulting in injury or death are now happening weekly in the United States.
“Everyone wants to believe ‘This stuff is not going to happen in our suburb, in my school,'” Jim says. “We understand that. But the need to reject the idea that something awful might happen, sometimes it transforms into rejecting the security measures meant to prevent the event.”
Some Parents Pushback Against School Safety Measures
Parents and community members often contact their school boards or vent on social media about new school security measures:
- ALICE training
- bullet resistant entryway renovations
- buzz-thru electric locks on doors
- adding school resource officers and other security personal
People often see these and others measures as frightening disruptions to the ideal learning environment.
“This is strange, when you think about it,” Jim notes. “We’d never get angry that a school tornado drill might scare the students. And we all lock our doors every night because we don’t want just anyone wandering in while our kids are vulnerable. When you put it in perspective, the outrageous thing isn’t that we lock our schools now, but that we left them unlocked all day long for so many years, even after terrible events happened.”
There was school violence even before the United States was a country. Although the pace seems to have picked up in the last decade, these assaults are not unique to our current time and place.
It is primarily in wealthier communities that schools experience pushback from parents and others about increased security. “In part,” Jim finds, “that’s an economic reality: The suburbs are where the funds are available to improve school buildings and invest in staff training. But also, in part, it’s because inner-city schools started to take action to protect their students years ago. It was different—metal detectors or chains on the doors, along with a deeper partnership with law enforcement in the schools—but the change was the same at heart: They were forced to change their mindset to one of ‘We’ve got to protect these kids.’”
Bulletproof Entryways Address Multiple Types of Threats.
From thousands of installations nationwide, TSS has found that the primary value of any bullet resistant system is deterrence.
“Any location—a check casher, a bank, a school—reduces altercations when they put in a barrier. What’s important to remember is that the threats to student safety aren’t just from active shooters. There are countless reasons it’s important to know who enters, who leaves, who wanders the halls, and why. Family disputes can easily spill over into school hallways. Issues with bullying, drugs, and other kinds of violence can create risks. And a lot of that happens when students who are up to something can pass through the building unchallenged. In all those situations, having solid access control not just integrated into the building, but integrated into the way everyone in that building goes about their day—that’s clearly all for the best.”
When it comes to modern threats to schools, Jim and his team favor the access control entryway. It brings a big boost to security without disrupting school operations.
“Everyone really has the feeling that they live in the best community in the world. Everyone believes these awful things are just never ever going to happen there. A few relatively minor changes in your building and procedures will go a long way in making sure that’s true.”