Schools At All Levels Upgrade Security; Newtown “Changed the Playing Field”


Visitors to any of 53 elementary and middle schools in Oregon’s Salem-Keizer School District need to be buzzed in. Their arrival will be captured on camera. USA Today says that in a grim reminder that mass shootings have become a fact of life, school districts are opting for more locked doors, more visitor check-ins and more surveillance equipment. Many have had security policies on the books for years, especially after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. Last December’s massacre in Newtown, Ct. introduced a new level of urgency. Suddenly, even children in elementary schools were not safe from bad guys. “Sandy Hook changed the playing field,” says Curtis Lavarell of the School Safety Advocacy Council, based in Sarasota, Fl. “We realize now every school is vulnerable to that kind of a tragedy.”

Limiting access to school property has been one of the most visible changes. Schools in Marlboro, N.J. budgeted $1.8 million for security measures, including construction of “man-trap” vestibules at entrances to be completed later this fall. School officials in several states, including New York and Pennsylvania, have asked election officials to move polling places off their campuses. Another common response: increasing the presence of armed law enforcement officers, particularly at elementary schools. Demand for training is “through the roof, unlike anything we’ve ever experienced,” says Mo Canady of the National Association of School Resource Officers, based in Hoover, Al. This summer, the organization trained more than 2,000 law officers how to work with schools, more than three times the 600 who were trained last summer.

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