Can We Make Our Schools Safer?


Oh, look.  Another school shooting.  Dismaying, but not surprising.  If you’re a regular reader, you may have already read a bit about my feelings and theories on Newtown and similar senseless and sensational crimes.  People are tempted to bring all sorts of political opinions  to issue, even if they have little (or nothing) to do with the crimes in question.  Many people spout rhetoric as an almost knee-jerk reaction, but a lot of people are just plain scared and are looking for an answer- any answer- to the problems plaguing our country and the world.

I don’t know what to do about guns.  I do believe access to guns is too easy.  People that don’t have guns of their own seem to be able to still procure them with relative ease, sometimes simply by stealing or “borrowing” one from someone they know.

Kern County sheriff Donny Youngblood said at a news conference Thursday night that the 16-year-old used a shotgun that belonged to his brother and went to bed Wednesday night with a plan to shoot two fellow students. (source)

I don’t think Mental Health Care reform is the problem, and at any rate, that seems to take the focus off the victims and hand the perpetrator an excuse.

Letting “God back in the schools” won’t do it either.

But one thing I think we can focus on is making our schools safer.  I don’t want to hear that it’s expensive.  The money that goes to inflated Congressional salaries and frivolous expenditures can and should be re-routed to make our children safer.

One thing that would help is to “treat schools like we treat courthouses,” as my hubby says.  I think metal detectors would be a great investment.  Every unsecured, public entrance to the school should have one.  (Really, ALL entrances should have one, but let’s not give the guys that write the budget simultaneous coronaries just yet.)  And a security guard posted at each entrance, especially during the hours of the day when there is high volume traffic.  If a metal detector is triggered, the guards can be on hand to handle the situation, and if a metal detector goes off at any given time during the day and is not immediately shut down, there should be a school-wide protocol that directs all teachers to lock down their classrooms.  Any students in the halls during a lock down would be directed to hide or make their way to a predetermined safe location.  Security officers should be specially trained to handle crisis situations.  We’re not talking a supermarket cop collaring people for trying to smuggle candied hams out in their drawls, we’re security personnel with the training and the will to take down a kids with a gun.  These little punks aren’t playin’ around and they need to know that the schools and the cops aren’t either.

Garrett-PD6500i-walk-through-metal-detector pic-11

Speaking of which, I know I can’t be alone in calling for stricter laws on media reporting, especially in the first few hours after a crisis.  One of the reasons that these freaks end up doing things on such a massive scale, shooting up schools and killing their whole families and whatnot, is because they think they can make a mark on the world, hurt people with their rage,  wrong others the way they’ve been wronged (in their pathetic little minds.)  I realize that people want to understand why these people do the horrible things they do, but the answers are usually more complicated than blaming guns, video games, music, or bullying.   Aside from whatever deranged, disturbed thoughts might pop out of the killers’ mouths if we were to ask them why, we usually don’t get that opportunity, because they often end up dead.  And it doesn’t really matter anyway.  What matters are the victims, and the media needs to take steps to keep the focus on them instead of glorifying the killer by validating his actions and intentions with exhaustive media coverage.

Well, the media will always cry “1st amendment “ and “the public has the right to know! so I’m sure I might as well just wish in one hand as far as media accountability, so back to the metal detector thing…it may not be a perfect solution, but it is one concrete step we as a community can take to try and make our schools safer for our children.

*see some of the stupid things the government could cut from their budget to make our schools safer!

8 responses to “Can We Make Our Schools Safer?

  1. These are well-thought out suggestions. However, I’m leery of any kind of restriction on the press reporting on events. They may be vultures, but they’re necessary vultures.

    And I’m less concerned with making schools safer than I am with making them better.

  2. They just privatized our school district. Kids have to pay for their own sports equipment etc…

    All of the security costs are gonna be difficult getting private funding for.

    But, I agree. I still think the media is fueling all of the copycat crimes by sensationalizing. That has to stop. Until it does, it will continue. It’ll continue regardless, but I think it’s something that has to change.

  3. An Additional and More Affective School Protection Program

    The big question is with the procedures we have been using in our schools can we protect our kids from a crazy shooter like Sandy Hook school. The answer is probably not! In 2005 there were two cases where a people had guns when a shooter came into a school. There was also a case where there were two armed guards in one school. In all three cases the people trying to defend the schools were killed and others were killed in the schools afterward.

    So what can be done?

    There is another approach that most people have not thought of, and that is to take command of the situation with some well thought out preparations that don’t put the children, teachers, teachers aids, secretaries and other school officials at risk but occupy the shooter so he can not do his intended dirty work.

    Locked exterior doors with key in and buzz in access front door, would help give the school staff an early warning method. Starting the alert and deterrent system as quickly as possible is very important in making this system or any system work.

    With this approach we want to make it so he/they can’t use their guns, then take their glory away, isolate him or her, occupy their time so the can’t shoot anyone, disable, and demoralize them in the process. Occupy them by providing them with task they have to resolve, so they will not be killed and not be able to complete their task, so they will think

    Once it is realized that there is a shooter, a lock would be opened to a control panel. A red mushroom emergency switch would be pushed. (There should be more then one of these locked panels.) All teachers should have a key to the panels and know what to do. Once the button has been pushed ten very bright strobes and very blinding will start going off in the hall system. The strobes in the main halls would have red filters on them. These strobes should be between 200 to 600 watt second strobes (the bigger the better) set up so when they get power, they all flash at different time delays and continuously, one after the other. The ones in any side halls would not have red filters for the kids safety. A red strobe can induce epilepsy in some people. The red filter would be a cheep and very inexpensive long shot. At the same time 7 ea, 125 db warbling high pitch sirens will start going off continuously (count depending on the school layout). 125 db is deafening and you are forced to cover your ears to lower the pain that level will cause. All efforts should be made at this time to lock down the school. All hall ways would be filled with dense smoke or fog. The goal is to buy as much time as possible and detract from the shooters efforts to stop them from doing any more shooting. There is a long list of other ideas that can injure the shooter, or stop him or her from causing any harm. It will take about 5 minutes plus for the police to get there and engage the shooter. Anything that can be done to disarm, disable or disillusion the shooter will be to every ones advantage and make it easer for the police. There is a lot more that can be done for little or no money to further delay this type of person and make them harmless.

    If it is winter turn the air conditioning all the way up and if it is warm out turn the heat all the way up in the school. Any thing that can make the shooter uncomfortable should be done.

    This would not cost a great deal of money and there are a lot of inexpensive things that can be done to save the staff and kids from a shooter. This appears to be a more aggressive approach, but also would have a lot better chance of saving our kids lives.

    This would be the first salvo.

    One of the major things that could partly dis-arm a shooter and really surprise them as well as disabling them is to automatically spray an area in front of any exits from the hall system with a mixture of synthetic oil and soap. Most schools have tile or well finished concrete floors. With this mixture on the floors, the shooter or anyone else would not be able to stand. Falling hard as a result of an ice skating slick floor could make the shooter lose his gun/s as well. I feel the soap and oil would be the best approach and easiest to dispense but bearings and or marbles could be used as well. If there are any stairs exiting the area they should be oiled as well.

    It would be best to do these things after the smoke/fog with some delay between each added task for the shooter, to use up as much of his time as possible. Then when he thinks he has mastered/overcome the previous task, then hit them with another problem to further confuse and dis-hearten them and slow them down further.

    Each door that is an exit from the hall should have a ten key pad and speaker bolted to it to look like a digital lock.. Below or above the ten key pads should have written in black sharpie, by hand ( combination A = 48645, B = 28651 (or any 5 digit number) When someone enters 4 digits there will be a slight delay then a voice will say enter combination B. Then any time numbers are punched in it will respond the same way forever. More time wasted by the shooter trying to get out. These could be made and installed by anyone that can build an electronics kit the circuit is very simple.

    One thing that could be done once the oil is down is to electrify the oil if it is made to be conductive. A neon transformer could be used for this. This would also disable him the same as a Tazer.

    By this time, if done right, the children and staff should be out of the school and hopefully safe.

    Now would be the time to turn the sirens down and the Public address system (PA) up with a recording (made up) of a police radio saying that they had arrived at the school and were entering through the back of the school. Then back with the sirens. But on the PA maybe play some gun sounds.

    At this point a cannister of air (not flamable) with the smell of natural gas would start to be released into the halls of the school. After you know the smell is all over the school the PA sirens should go off and a warning of a natural gas leak into the school and everyone should evacuate the school and do not turn on anything that could cause a spark..

    If the sprinklers can be turned on without to much damage, turn the fire alarms and trip the sprinklers in the main halls. Setting this up is not very expensive to isolate the hall sprinklers from the rest of the school.

    Another thing that may not be to difficult to install would be a large heavy fishing net for decoration if the school could accommodate that in the area where the shooter would be and with a solenoid system in place so the net could be dropped at all points at once, it might be possible to capture the shooter under the dropped net.

    There are some more aggressive things that could be done involving a weapon that can pierce most body armor and is silent and can be very effective when the shooter is up to his elbows in other tasks, and that would be a cross bow. This weapon makes little noise so the shooter would have no idea where the bolts/arrows where coming from. The tips of the bolts would have to be special ones that are extremely sharp by polishing them sharp like a leather workers knifes. These will easily go through Kevlar body armor. Ceramic armor is not easily acquired and most likely would not be used.

    There are a lot of other things that can be done to occupy a shooter that are not expensive or hard to do.

    It would depend on the layout of the school and other details of the school to see which things would be effective. But with this approach, a plan could be put together for any school that could be made to work.

    A lot of planning as to how to get the staff and kids out assuming a shooter makes it in would need to be done. But things like body shields (similar to what the police use for riots) could also be used to help protect the egress operation. Extensive planning is the most important part of this program.

    Get ideas from your local area. Once the plan is purposed, many may come up with inexpensive and effective ideas to do or replace ideas used here. The approach is what is important here.

    If there are any questions contact me Alfred (Sandy) A. Mikalow III, At

    • Thanks for the detailed response. I think you raise some good points. I tend to agree with you on the first response/ lock down idea. I’m not sure (IMO) if some of the other stuff you mentioned would help or not in an emergency situation. People in the frame of mind to go and commit mass murder are likely to be easily frustrated and not in a “problem solving” mood. If you can’t separate a shooter from the weapon, having him confined to an area may prevent him from hurting others, but there’s a good chance he’d probably kill himself before allowing capture, as many of these shooters plan to die in the commission of these crimes anyhow. Some of the stuff you suggested sounds either too complicated and time consuming to apply in an emergency situation, or like booby traps. If a gunman was in the school, for instance, who would have the time or access to things to “soap” the floor. Or the buzz in system…the idea has merit if employed with a strict protocol, but if a student arrived with a gun concealed, what would stop a faculty member for unwittingly buzzing him in, thinking him just another harmless student?
      At any rate, you’re thinking outside the box and that’s what we need I think, a new approach to this problem. Maybe there is a happy medium between what I suggested and what you suggested.

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