Focusing on lessons learned from Active Shooter Attacks

Week 9 – February 6, 2020

West Nickel Mines Amish School Victims 

On October 2, 2006, the Amish community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was shaken. That morning, a local man entered the one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School armed with multiple guns. According to witnesses, he allowed the adult women and young boys to leave, but kept the young girls inside. The women who escaped ran to a nearby house to call the police. Twenty minutes after taking the girls hostage, the perpetrator began shooting his victims. In all he killed five of the young girls and left five wounded. He then took his own life. He left notes for his wife and his own children and had seemingly committed the horrendous act as revenge against God for the death of his first child, a baby girl. The remarkable response of forgiveness and reconciliation from the Amish community made global headlines. The people of the Old Order Amish community and the surviving victims are true heroes.

Expert Advice of the Week: Integrated Cameras

Cameras do not stop active shooters, but they can be a great tool if a shooter situation arises. A 2016 study by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that 73% of elementary schools, 88% of middle schools, and 94% of high schools employed security cameras to varying degrees. While not a complete solution to school security, integrated security cameras and video surveillance systems (and a reliable network) are important tools. Like metal detectors, surveillance cameras do not guarantee safety and security. They are just a piece of the comprehensive solution to school security. While they may deter crime and serve a reactive role in the eyes of many, they may also be used in identifying potential threats. The main goal should be to recognize potential threats before a single shot is fired.
Camera systems should utilize IP cameras that are either wired or wireless over a computer network. A separate, secure, network should be created and utilized exclusively for video surveillance purposes. IP cameras allow you to broadcast video footage over the internet and allow other users such as law enforcement the ability to monitor remotely during a lockdown situation. In addition, many video surveillance system management platforms allow for seamless integration with door access control and intrusion alarm systems.
Cameras can also serve in the vetting of visitors to your school. With proper fields of view at the main entrance (and all entry/egress points to the school), you can help your greeters/receptionists conduct a proper vetting before a visitor enters the school. An effective school security camera network at your school should also include all assembly spaces, corridors, parking lots, and bus drop-off/pick-up locations. In order to be completed effectively, cameras must be “live” monitored by trained staff members at different locations throughout the school. Large, dedicated monitors should be mounted in the main office, principal office, SRO office and district office at a minimum. Increasing the number of live monitoring locations throughout your school will greatly increase the probability that a potential threat will be proactively detected. Utilizing movement detection features can automatically display the camera feed to monitors.
A partnership with your local law enforcement agencies should be established so that policy and procedure can be created and trained with regards to sharing access to security cameras. Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered technology is also starting to infiltrate the market with the ability to analyze multiple data points to detect threats (motion, weapons) faster and more accurately than systems that only rely on human surveillance. With a properly installed and maintained Integrated School Security Cameras & Video Surveillance System, dangerous situations can be prevented or intercepted quickly.
Here are some questions you should consider regarding installing security cameras:

  • Has your network been updated?
  • Who should have access to cameras and data?
  • How much storage is needed and where should it be kept?
  • Should you incorporate older analog cameras or replace them with new IP cameras?
  • What video management system should be used?

Unknown Shooting of the Week
Santana High School

Lesson Learned from the Santana High School Tragedy

On March 5, 2001 at Santana High School in Santee California was attacked by one of its students. The assailant used a .22-caliber revolver and fatally shot his first victim in the school’s bathroom, then moved to the hallway where he shot randomly in the hallway, killing another student. Ultimately, he killed two and wounded thirteen. He returned to the bathroom, which provided time for staff and students to run away or hide from the gunfire. A student teacher and security officer who were investigating the commotion were surprised when they found the shooter in the bathroom. Both were shot when they attempted to run. The shooting ended when two off-duty police officers, who were already in the building, made their way to the bathroom. The shooter surrendered after he failed to follow through with committing suicide. The lesson learned at Santana High School is that the lack of communication caused more injuries and even death. The school lacked a lockdown policy and proper communication devices to notify everyone that there was an active shooter in the building.

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