School safety improved after the 1999 mass murder at Colorado’s Columbine High School, but experts disagree on whether safety efforts have grown lax more recently, USA Today reports. “‘Complacent.’ That’s the first word that came to mind when I heard about the shooting in Red Lake,” said Curt Lavarello of the National Association of School Resource Officers, which represents 16,000 school police officers. Others urge not overreacting to isolated cases. “The number of fatalities has been quite low since Columbine,” said Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. “Fear shouldn’t cause us to lose our way in handling discipline problems at school.” This school year there have been 19 violent deaths among the 54 million students in 119,000 elementary and secondary schools.
In Red Lake, police immediately entered the high school and went after the killer, who turned the gun on himself when confronted. At Columbine, police waited several hours before entering the school, a decision that was criticized later. Overall, “there’s more security on campus than ever before,” said Ron Stephens of the National School Safety Center in Westlake Village, Calif.