Physical Security Design and The Active Shooter (Pt. 1)

Physical Security and Active Shooter Attacks
Physical Security and Active Shooter Attacks

Physical Security Design & The Active Shooter

By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO |

When many people think of physical security, the first ideas that come to mind are things like locks, alarm systems, screening with metal detectors, CCTV, etc.—hardware components or procedures. Although these elements play a role in physical security, they have no value outside the context of the overarching system design.

In the context of active assailant attacks, performance-based physical security design integrates Detection, Delay, and Response elements in a manner that mathematically reconciles the time required for an adversary to commence mass killing and the time required for detection and response by security or police.

Fundamentally, physical security design is a mathematics problem defined by several key times and probabilities. The main performance metric of a Physical Protection System (PPS) design is its Probability of Interruption, defined as the probability that an adversary will be detected and intercepted by a response force before he/she can complete their objective.[1] The most important elements determining the Probability of Interruption are the Adversary Task Time (total time required for an adversary to enter a facility and access their target) and response force time. If the total time for detection, assessment, communications, and response force intervention is longer than the adversary task time, the system will fail. Specific elements alone (such as having an access control system or CCTV cameras) mean nothing outside the context of the overall system design. Individual PPS elements must work together integrally to reconcile these key times or the adversary will succeed.

In the context of active shooter events, detection usually is the result of visual or audible observation when the attack commences. Detection may also result from an alarm signal generated by forced entry into secured spaces or gunshot detection systems. The Time of Detection during an attack is represented in figure 1 as TD.

The time the report is received by authorities and/or assessed by a security control room for deployment of on-site armed officers is represented in the diagram as TA (Time of Assessment).

After the 911/112 center or security control room is alerted, the response force is subsequently dispatched to intercept and neutralize the adversary. This is represented in the following diagram as the Time of Interruption (TI).

Physical Protection System Times and Functions

While the alert and response force deployment is in progress, the adversary advances through barriers and distance to access targets and initiate mass killing. The time mass killing is in progress is represented in the previous diagram as Time of Completion (TC). The Adversary Task Time is the cumulative time between the Time of Detection and the Time of Completion. If the Time of Interruption is before the Time of Completion, the Physical Protection System (PPS) is successful in its function of preventing mass killing.

In most previous active shooter attacks, deficiencies in one or more key functional elements (Detection, Delay, or Response) result in a situation where mass killing (TC) initiates before the response force intervenes (TI).

Based on data yielded during several studies of active shooter attacks, the consequences of the difference in time between commencement of mass killing and response force intervention (TC versus TI) can be estimated as one casualty per 15 seconds.[2] 

Physical Security and Active Shooter Planning

Although the ideal objective of PPS design is to interrupt mass killing before it commences, real world conditions often limit the possibility of achieving a high Probability of Interruption. This type of situation is often common in ‘soft target’ facilities due to the need for unobstructed public access and facilities reliant on the unpredictable response times of off-site police. Other real world challenges such as cultural expectations, branding, and budget boundaries often limit the feasibility of implementing ideal physical security measures. And if an attack is launched by an insider adversary (e.g., employee, student, etc.) already inside the facility, physical protection elements at outer protective layers (e.g., perimeter, building envelope, entrances, etc.) will have little or no benefit.

Nevertheless, all measures that increase Adversary Task Time and expedite response time have a direct benefit in reducing potential casualties by narrowing the gap between TC and TI.

Sandy Hook Elementary School, 14 December 2012: Case Study of Performance-Based Physical Security Principles in Practical Application

 At approximately 09:34, Adam Lanza used an AR-15 rifle to shoot through a tempered glass window adjacent to the school’s locked entrance doors and passed into the lobby.[3]

 After killing the school principal and a school psychologist and injuring two other staff members who entered the hallway to investigate, Lanza entered the school office. Meanwhile, staff members concealed inside the school office and nearby rooms initiated the first calls to 911. Staff located throughout the building were alerted when the ‘all-call’ button on a telephone was accidentally activated during a 911 call.

After finding no targets in the office, Lanza returned to the hallway and proceeded into the unlocked door of first grade classroom 8 where mass murder commenced (approx. 09:36).[4] In less than two minutes, Lanza killed two teachers and fifteen students.

Sandy Hook Elementary Attack Diagram

As the attack in classroom 8 was in progress, teacher Victoria Soto and a teaching assistant in classroom 10 attempted to conceal children in cabinets and a closet.

After exhausting targets in classroom 8, Lanza proceeded into classroom 10 and killed Ms. Soto, assistant Anne Murphy, and five children. Although the exact reason Ms. Soto did not lock the door to classroom 10 is unknown, all classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School featured ANSI/BHMA “classroom-function” (mortise F05 and bored F84) locks which can only be locked with a key from the hallway-side of the door.

The tragedy ended in classroom 10 when Lanza committed suicide at 09:40 while police were preparing for entry into the building.

As common in U.S. primary schools, Sandy Hook Elementary School relied on off-site police as their response force during emergency events. Response was first initiated at 09:35 when a staff member called 911 to report the crisis. At 09:36, an alert was broadcast by radio and police units were dispatched to the school. The first police unit arrived at 09:39, followed immediately by two other units. After assessing the scene and planning a point of entry, the officers organized into a contact team and made entry into the school at 09:44.

In the context of physical protection system performance, the adversary task time (time between when Lanza’s entry commenced and mass killing was in progress) at Sandy Hook Elementary School was approximately 23 seconds. The time between detection of the attack and on-site arrival of police was slightly less than three minutes. However, there was an additional 5-6 minutes of time as officers assessed the situation and organized before making entry and effectively moving indoors to neutralize the killer. When assessing incidents involving response by off-site police, arrival time at the scene is irrelevant. What matters is the time ending when police arrive at the immediate location of the adversary ready to neutralize the threat. This describes the contrast between On-Site Response Time and Effective Response Time. At Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Effective Response Time was approximately nine minutes.

As illustrated in the following table, the variation between Adversary Task Time and Effective Response Time witnessed at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been historically common during active assailant attacks. In each of the six events documented below, mass killing was in full progress within 1-3 minutes of the time the attacker entered the building or shot the first victim. By comparison, the Effective Response Times ranged between 7 and 38 minutes, with most events ending prior to intervention by police when the attacker(s) escaped or committed suicide.

Active Shooter Timeline Infographic

Mitigating the consequences of active shooter attacks through better physical security design and integration

 

In the Newtown tragedy, PPS failure was largely the result of inadequate delay in relation to the time required for response by off-site police. When the attack is analyzed using Sandia’s Estimate of Adversary Sequence Interruption (EASI) Model, the original PPS at Sandy Hook Elementary School would have had a Probability of Interruption of 0.0006 (Very Low).

Sandy Hook Shooting Timeline
Sandy Hook Shoting - EASI Attack Analysis

In the case of Sandy Hook Elementary School, there are a number of measures that could have improved overall system performance.

Upgrade the facade with intrusion-resistant glazing. Adam Lanza entered the building by bypassing the locked entrance doors and shooting a hole through the adjacent tempered glass window. He then struck the fractured window and climbed through the breach. Tempered safety glass is generally only 4-5 times resistant to impact as annealed glass and provides minimal delay against forced intrusion. According to testing documented by Sandia National Laboratories, 0.25 inch tempered glass provides 3-9 seconds of delay against an intruder using a fire axe and the mean delay time for penetrating 1/8″ tempered glass with a hammer is 0.5 minutes.[5] However, impact testing documented by Sandia did not account for the fragility of a tempered glass specimen after first being penetrated by firearm projectile. In penetration tests Critical Intervention Services conducted of 1/4-inch tempered glass windows using several shots from a 9mm handgun to penetrate glazing prior to impact by hand, delay time was only 10 seconds.[6]

Upgrading facade glazing with the use of mechanically-attached anti-shatter film could have improved delay time at the exterior protective layer by 60-90 seconds.[7]

Construct an interior protective layer to delay access from the lobby into occupied school corridors. Once Adam Lanza breached the exterior facade into the school lobby, there were no additional barrier layers delaying access into areas occupied by students and faculty. A significant percentage of active shooter assaults by outsider adversaries originate through main entrances and progress into occupied spaces.[8] Some examples include attacks at the Riena Nightclub (2017), Pulse Nightclub (2016), Charlie Hebdo Office (2015), Inland Regional Center (2015), Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood (2015), Centre Block Parliament Bldg (2014), and US Holocaust Memorial Museum (2009).
 
An ideal lobby upgrade would be designed to facilitate reception of visitors while securing the interior of the school through a protective layer constructed of intrusion-resistant materials. Depending on material specifications, an interior barrier layer could have delayed Adam Lanza’s progress into the school by an additional 60-120 seconds.
 
Sandy Hook Elementary School Lobby Concept

Replace “classroom-function” locks on school doors with locks featuring an interior button or thumbturn. All classroom doors inside Sandy Hook Elementary were equipped with ANSI “classroom-function” locks (mortise F05 and bored F84). These are perhaps the worst choice of locks possible for lockdown purposes during active shooter events. As witnessed in a number of attacks, doors equipped with classroom-function locks often remain unlocked due to difficulty locating or manipulating keys under stress. In addition to Sandy Hook classroom 10, another incident where this situation clearly contributed to unnecessary casualties was the 2007 Virginia Tech Norris Hall attack.[9] In these two events alone, 26 students and faculty were killed and 24 wounded specifically because the doors to classrooms could not be reliably secured.

Ideal specifications for door locks would be ANSI/BHMA A156 Grade 1 with an ANSI lock code of F04 or F82.[10] Mechanical locks rated ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 have been successfully evaluated under a variety of static force and torque tests. Locks coded as F04 and F82 feature buttons or thumbturns to facilitate ease of locking under stress.

Although there are no empirical sources citing tested forced entry times against ANSI/BHMA A156 Grade 1 rated locks, it is estimated that a committed adversary using impact force with no additional tools could penetrate improved locks in approximately 90-110 seconds.

Replace door vision panels with intrusion-resistant glazing. During the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary, Adam Lanza was able to enter classrooms 8 and 10 directly through unlocked doors. If these classrooms were secured, the tempered glass vision panels on all classroom doors could have been easily breached to facilitate entry in less than 10 seconds.

An effective approach to physical security specification would ensure that all barriers composing the classroom protective layer are composed of materials with similar delay time values. This could be accomplished by ensuring that vision panels are no wider than 1.5″ (3.8 cm) or constructed of intrusion-resistant glazing such as laminated glass, polycarbonate, or reinforced with anti-shatter film.

If the aforementioned barrier improvements were employed in the PPS design at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Adam Lanza’s access into occupied classrooms would have been delayed by an additional 162-312 seconds. This would have improved the overall performance of the PPS by potentially increasing the Adversary Task Time to 185-335 seconds before mass killing was in progress. Although this is a significant improvement from the original Adversary Task Time (est. 23 seconds), 335 seconds is still less than the estimated response time of police during the original event (est. 544 seconds).

In many cases, accomplishing the performance-based objective of interrupting an active shooter before mass killing commences requires a combined approach aimed at both increasing delay time and decreasing response force time. In the case of Sandy Hook Elementary School, decreased response time could have been facilitated by the use of gunshot detection technology or duress alarms, improved communications procedures, and similar improvements. Any measure that decreases alert notification and response times has a beneficial impact on system performance. Even if enhancements only reduce response time by 10 or 15 seconds, such improvements have the theoretical benefit of reducing casualties by one victim per fifteen seconds of decreased response time.

In the situation of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the greatest improvement could have resulted from having an on-site response force (e.g., armed school resource officer) capable of reliably responding anywhere on the school campus within 120 seconds of alert.[11] If this measure were implemented, the total estimated alert and response time could have been improved to 147-157 seconds. When compared to the increased Adversary Task Time of 206-316 seconds, the improved PPS design would have likely resulted in interruption before mass homicide commenced. When analyzed using Sandia’s Estimate of Adversary Sequence Interruption (EASI) Model, the improved PPS would have resulted in a Probability of Interruption of 0.87 (Very High).

The following table and spreadsheet models the PPS improvements described in this article to demonstrate how performance-based physical security design can influence the outcome of armed attacks.

Sandy Hook Elementary - Improved Security Design
Sandy Hook Elementary Physical Security

Threat Characteristics and Physical Security Performance

The delay time expectations of physical barriers cited in this article were based on the weaponry and methods of entry employed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School. If Lanza had employed different tools or methods, the delay time of barriers would have correspondingly been different. The same principle is true for bullet-resistant barriers. The ballistic resistance of materials is directly relative to the caliber and type of ammunition used by an adversary.

To ensure a security design performs as expected, it is first necessary to establish a definition of the adversary’s likely capabilities and tactics. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll continue this discussion by exploring trends in the behavior of attackers, threat capabilities and methods, and approaches to developing a Design Basis Threat (DBT) suitable for security planning.

[1] Garcia, Mary Lynn. Design and Evaluation of Physical Protection Systems. Burlington, MA: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007.

[2] Anklam, Charles, Adam Kirby, Filipo Sharevski, and J. Eric Dietz. “Mitigating Active Shooter Impact: Analysis for Policy Options Based on Agent/computer-based Modeling.” Journal of Emergency Management 13.3 (2014): 201-16.

[3] Sedensky, Stephen J. Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Danbury, Ct.: Office of the State’s Attorney. Judicial District of Danbury, 2013. Print.

[4] Time estimated based on witness event descriptions and assessment of time required to walk through the school office and down the corridor to classroom 8.

[5] Barrier Technology Handbook, SAND77-0777. Sandia Laboratories, 1978.

[6] Critical Intervention Services assisted a window film manufacturer in 2015 in conducting a series of timed penetration tests of 1/4-inch tempered glass windows with mechanically-attached 11 mil window film. The tests involved penetration by firearm followed by impact (kicking and rifle buttstock). The delay times ranged from 62 to 94 seconds and deviated according to the aggression of our penetration tester.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Gundry, Craig S. “Analysis of 20 Marauding Terrorist Firearm Attacks.” Preparing for Active Shooter Events. ASIS Europe 2017, 30 Mar. 2017, Milan, Italy.

[9] Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech. April 16, 2007. Report of the Review Panel. Virginia Tech Review Panel. August 2007. pp.13.

[10] ANSI/BHMA A156.13, Mortise Locks and Latches. Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), New York, NY, 2011.

[11] CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® standards define a performance benchmark of 120 seconds as the maximum time for acceptable response by on-site officers. However, achieving this type of response time in many facilities requires careful consideration of facility geography, communications systems, access obstructions, and officer capabilities (e.g., training, physical conditioning, etc.).

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Mass Homicide in Schools: The Risk in Perspective

Mass Homicide in Schools - Risk Perspective
By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

When teaching security planning workshops for school leaders, I find it valuable to begin the presentation with a brief discussion to put the risk of mass homicide in perspective. I realize in most audiences there will be a few administrators who believe such an event could never happen in their school. Conversely, I also know there may be others present holding an exaggerated fear of the threat fueled by what they have seen in headlines over the past several years.

There are two factors that contribute to risk: Probability (the likelihood of occurrence of a risk event) and Criticality (the impact/severity of the risk event). Statistically, acts of mass homicide in schools are very low in frequency and rarely does probability as a sole factor justify risk reduction. For instance, the FBI documented 52 active shooter attacks in the United States between 2000 and 2017 involving educational institutions.[1] [2] [3] Considering the presence of over 92,618 K-12 schools in the US, the estimated probability of an individual school experiencing an active shooter attack over the seventeen year reporting period is 0.0004.[4]

Active Shooter Attacks and Schools Infographic

However, the low statistical probability of active shooter risk rarely matches with public perspective. For instance, in a 2018 survey by Center for the Study of Local Issues at Anne Arundel Community College, 61% of county residents polled expressed fear of a mass shooting in local schools.[5] According to the 2018 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward Public Schools, 34% of parents reported fear for their child’s safety at school.[6] In a 2018 survey of Whatcom County public school parents, school security tied with topics of student support services and access to career and technical education opportunities as number one priorities.[7] For independent schools, security is rapidly eclipsing traditional priorities of parents (such as scholastic excellence) and perception of safety has even become an issue of business competition.

Psychologists attribute the public’s tendency to overestimate the probability of tragic events to a heuristic called availability bias.[8]  This phenomenon most commonly occurs as an inaccurate deviation in judgement in response to memorable and emotionally-impactful events.[9] In today’s society, this situation is often compounded by the extended duration and dramatic presentation of news media reporting in the aftermath of tragic school shootings.

Although the probability of mass homicide is indeed very low, the threat is real nonetheless. To punctuate this point during seminars, I end discussion about risk probability with a slide displaying Florida State University’s Strozer Library and a short description of the shooting on 20 November 2014. I use that specific event as a sober example of the reality of active shooter violence because my second oldest daughter had just departed the library twenty minutes before gunman Myron May arrived and commenced fire.

Strozer Library Shooting

Mass Homicide in Schools: Consequence as the deciding risk factor

For most schools, the probability of attack as a sole factor rarely justifies serious risk reduction. In most cases, it’s the potentially devastating consequences of an attack that warrant concern. Aside from the obvious and horrific impact of loss of life, active shooter attacks universally result in extended disruption of school operations, loss of student enrollments, and diversion of leadership attention to crisis management activities. The duration of disruption can extend months before police have released the school as a crime scene, cleanup and restoration is completed, and post-incident recovery activities have concluded.

An act of mass homicide can literally close the doors on a school forever. In cases where the horror of the event is deeply imprinted into the psyche of the public, the school may be deemed permanently inhabitable due to its presence as a reminder of the tragedy. Rather than repair and restore Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown Public Schools opted to demolish the building and build a new replacement school at an estimated cost of $50M.[10] Similarly, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act authorized $25 million to replace building 12 in Parkland, Florida.

Depending the school’s responsiveness in managing the post-incident psychological consequences, the effects of an attack can easily result in exodus of students and school employees and long-term negative impact on climate and culture. In addition to psychological wounds suffered by the school population, the trauma of mass homicide can extend far beyond the local community with measurable effects of sadness and anxiety experienced vicariously by people nationwide.[11]

When these issues are rationally and objectively viewed from the perspective of risk, it is usually the combined results of duty of care obligation (legal and moral responsibility for student safety), parental perceptions and expectations, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of an attack that warrant a balanced and diligent approach to risk control in schools.

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Copyright © 2019 by Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

CIS consultants offer a range of services to assist schools in managing risks of active shooter violence.  Contact us for more information.

References

[1] Blair, J. Pete, and Schweit, Katherine W. (2014). A Study of Active Shooter Incidents 2000-2013. Texas State University and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2014.

[2] Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2014 and 2015, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2016.

[3] Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2018.

[4] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094), Chapter 2.

[5] County Survey Finds Support for Gun Control, Concerns About Mass Shooting at Schools. Press Release: April 5, 2018. Center for the Study of Local Issues, Anne Arundel Community College.

[6] School security: Is your child safe at school? – PDK Poll 2018. http://pdkpoll.org/results/school-security-is-your-child-safe-at-school

[7] OSPI NEWS RELEASE: Counseling, Mental Health Top Priority, Public Says. Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. August 28, 2018.

[8] Tversky, Amos; Kahneman, Daniel (1973). “Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability”. Cognitive Psychology. 5 (2): 207–232.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Delgadillo, Natalie. With Shootings on the Rise, Schools Turn to ‘Active Shooter’ Insurance. http://www.governing.com/topics/education/gov-cost-of-active-shooters-insurance.html. June 2018.

[11] Dore, B., Ort, L., Braverman, O., & Ochsner, K. N. (2015). Sadness shifts to anxiety over time and distance from the national tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Psychological Science, 26(4), 363–373.

School Security Training Webinar for Independent School Leaders

School Security Training Seminar
By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

The following series of school security training videos is produced as a webinar edition of the one-day Integrated Security Planning for School Administrators (ISPSA) seminar as presented for independent school organizations and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The ISPSA webinar series explores a full spectrum of school security training topics including risk management strategy and planning, safe school climate and culture, school threat assessment, physical security and facility design, emergency response planning, and more.

The ISPSA webinar program presents a comprehensive and holistic approach to school security and emergency readiness in alignment with the principles of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program®.

ISPSA Video 01/04 – Security Risk Management & Safe School Climate

 In this one-hour lesson, architect of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Craig Gundry explores the dynamics of mass homicide in schools, risk management strategy, and establishing a safe school climate and culture as the first layer of defense against active shooter attacks.

Risk Management & School Security ….1:32

— Mass Homicide in Schools: The Risk in Perspective….1:32

— Characteristics of Active Shooters in Schools….6:54

— Security Risk Management Strategy….10:51

— Anatomy of a School Attack….17:12

— Adversary Applicability and Risk Management….20:43

Safe School Climate and Culture….23:10

— School Leadership and Strategic Planning….28:16

— Knowing Your Students….31:51

— Fostering a Positive School Culture….35:28

— Positive Disciplinary Practices….38:11

— Reconciling Security Measures and School Climate….40:25

—– SRO & Security Officer Impact on School Climate….43:11

— Educating Parents….53:13

ISPSA Video 02/04 – Student Threat Assessment & Management

In this 1.25-hour lesson, architect of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Craig Gundry explores the pathway to targeted violence in schools, threat assessment principles, and approaches to managing student behavior of concern.

Psychology of Targeted Violence….0:03:10

— Types of Aggression….0:03:10

— Pathway Model of Targeted Violence and Schools….0:09:09

Threat Assessment Methodology….0:13:09

— Behavior of Concern and Threat Reporting….0:14:08

— Overview of Threat Assessment Process….0:16:50

— Salem-Keizer Threat Assessment Process….0:18:36

— CIS Threat Assessment Process….0:22:32

CSTAG Threat Assessment Process….0:24:54

— FERPA & Threat Assessment….0:31:54

— Parental Cooperation….0:33:54

Key Assessment Factors….41:20

— Warning Behaviors….0:42:17

— Risk Factors….0:58:45

— Stabilizing Factors….1:08:04

— Estimating Threat….1:09:14

Threat Management Options….1:12:41

ISPSA Video 03/04 – Physical Security and School Facility Design

In this two-hour lesson module, architect of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Craig Gundry explores important aspects of physical security and access control in schools, life safety design, and response to imminent threat situations.

Principles of Performance-Based Physical Security….0:01:14

— Physical Protection System (PPS) Functions and Schools….0:02:39

— Physical Protection Systems and Active Shooter Attacks….0:05:08

— PPS Performance and Historical Case Examples….0:08:07

— Physical Security and Active Shooters….0:14:00

Perimeter Protection and School Grounds….0:17:14

— Campus Fencing….0:17:20

—- Cost-Benefit and Case Examples….0:22:01

—- Campus Fencing & Egress Gates….0:25:38

— Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design….0:28:10

— Obscuration….0:30:30

— Outdoor Intrusion and Attack Detection….0:32:19

—- Gunshot Detection Systems….0:32:46

School Building Façade and Entrances….0:34:59

— Façade Glazing….0:35:21

—- Protective Glazing Options….0:42:12

— Entry Control…0:49:14

—- Secure Lobby Design….0:50:41

—- Contraband and Weapons Screening….0:54:55

— Campus Access Control Systems….1:06:52

—- Lockdown Macro Events….1:09:06

—- Examples of Access Control Applications….1:11:03

—- Access Control Locking Hardware….1:16:40

Secure Classrooms….1:24:38

— Classroom Door Locks….1:29:04

— Windows & Door Vision Panels….1:34:27

Ballistic Protection….1:34:58

Emergency Exits and Egress Obstructions….1:40:50

Armed Response Force Deployment….1:44:22

— SRO & Security Officer Selection….1:46:21

— SRO & Security Officer Training….1:50:14

— SRO & Security Officer Post Assignment….1:54:20

— Armed Teachers and Staff Members?….1:54:42

—- Considerations for Armed School Staff….2:00:48

Practical Integration of Performance-Based Physical Security….2:05:35

ISPSA Video 04/04 – Emergency Response Planning and Preparation

In this 2.25-hour lesson module, architect of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Craig Gundry explores characteristics of effective emergency response plans, infrastructure preparations, and model procedures for responding to school emergencies.

If you found this video series informative, please pass along a referral to your colleagues by using the buttons below.

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The School Security Plan: A Holistic Approach

School Security Plan - A Holistic Approach
By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

Effective school security plans begin with a strategy. To most, this sounds like an obvious point. However, some of the most common problems I encounter as a consultant are the absence of cohesive strategy in the design of school security plans and over reliance on a limited set of protective measures.

Fundamentally, preparation for active shooter violence is a process of risk management and conceptually no different from any other security and safety planning activity. The ultimate aim of any risk management program is to effectively characterize the risk to an organization’s assets and implement measures to reduce risk in alignment with the organization’s risk appetite while tending matters of operational needs, culture, branding, and budget.

An effective school security plan employs a combined approach to reducing risk probability and risk criticality. In the context of security risk, probability is the result of Threat (an adversary with intent and capability to cause harm) and Vulnerability (the state of conditions that would allow the adversary to succeed in causing the risk event). Proactive security measures aim to reduce Risk Probability by either reducing Threat or reducing Vulnerability. If proactive measures are implemented effectively, they may be successful in reducing Risk Probability, but there is always an element of uncertainty. To further reduce risk, reactive/mitigative measures are employed to reduce the harmful effect of risk events (Risk Criticality).

The School Security Plan & Multi-Layered Risk Management

In protective theory, this concept of multiple layers of proactive and mitigative measures is often described as concentric rings of protection. This concept is illustrated in the following diagram. The outermost rings of the diagram (colored in blue) represent proactive measures aimed at reducing probability by reducing Threat and/or Vulnerability. However, despite our best effort to mitigate the probability of active shooter attacks, no strategy to prevent events can guarantee success with certainty. To address this reality, additional preparations should be implemented to reduce the severity of attack events. Additional mitigative and reactive countermeasures are represented by the innermost red layers in the diagram below.

Risk Management and Security Strategy for Schools

In the context of school security planning, proactive risk management starts with reducing potential threat. This is first accomplished by reducing the potential conditions that contribute to advancement on the targeted violence pathway. Reinforcement of positive school culture, creating strong bonds between staff and students, mentoring students with problems, actively intervening in bullying situations, and restorative practices are all examples of measures aimed at reducing threat. Additionally, as promoted by the US Government’s Safe School initiative in 2000-2002, having a formal system in place to identify potential threats and warning behaviors, investigate and assess threats, and manage potential threatening situations before they result in violence is another critical element of reducing threat.

Positive school culture and threat assessment may be effective in reducing the threat of students escalating toward violence, but these measures have little effect on outsider adversaries who may target the school for reasons beyond the school’s influence. The only way to effectively mitigate probability in this risk situation is to establish an effective physical protection system. Effective physical security requires that a threat is detected early and delayed from accomplishing the objective long enough for a response force to intercept. If these three elements (Detection, Delay, and Response) are deficient or out of synch, the system will fail. In virtually every school attack perpetrated by an outsider (e.g., MSDHS, Sandy Hook, West Nickel Mines, Platte River Canyon, etc.), there was a major failure in one or more of these three key functional elements. As of present, very few schools in the United States have a physical security program that truly meets the criteria for performance effectiveness.

If an attack does occur, an effective school security plan integrates additional measures to mitigate the impact of the risk event. In school security, this starts by having a response force capable of effectively intercepting a threat before they can cause mass violence. If the effective response time of local police is longer than three minutes, it is usually impractical, if not impossible, to achieve enough delay time to prevent mass tragedy. Unfortunately, average police response times (effective response times) during active shooter events often range between 7 and 10 minutes (depending on cited source). The only way to guarantee an effective and reliable response is to have a reliable alert and communications system and an on-site response capability provided by School Resource Officers or well-trained armed security officers.

In addition to communications and tactical response, plans and preparations should be emplaced to manage the situation safely, effectively, and restore normal operations as quickly as possible. This starts with an effective and well-organized school emergency response plan. Despite the importance of having a solid and integrated emergency plan, this is one area where many schools have problems. School emergency plans are often a collection of memos with little integration or effective consideration to issues such as redundancy, feasibility under high stress conditions, and the many faces of “Murphy’s law” that emerge during crisis management.

Once the foundation is laid through effective response planning, teachers and faculty need to be trained in their functions and regularly drilled in response procedures. One of our clients, Shorecrest Preparatory School, conducts lockdown drills bi-monthly to ensure that teachers and staff members are instinctive in their response. When questioned about the frequency of lockdown drills versus legally-mandated fire drills, Mike Murphy (Headmaster at Shorecrest Prep) tells people that no kids have been killed in school fires in over 50 years but one only needs to watch this week’s news to be reminded of the last time school children were killed in an act of violence.

The Guardian SafeSchool Program® as a Model for Best Practices

The CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® integrates all of these approaches to managing safety and security in schools while reinforcing school climate and culture. Our philosophy behind the design of the program is a holistic and multi-layered strategy that reduces risk by preventing acts of violence and mitigating the potential impact of events through effective preparation and response.

CIS is honored that John Jay College of Criminal Justice has peer reviewed the program and endorsed it as a model for best practices. It is our hope that states, school districts, and private schools will consider the methodology described in his article as they search for an effective and balanced solution to reducing risks of targeted violence while simultaneously fostering environments conducive to good education.

For more information about school security planning, protective strategy, and measures for reducing negative impact on school climate and culture, see the YouTube video at the bottom of the page.

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The MSDHS Commission Report – A Security Expert’s Critique (2/2)

MSDHS Public Safety Commission Report
By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

Part One of this article surveyed concerns expressed by Critical Intervention Services regarding school ‘target hardening’ measures proposed by the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report. Part II continues with an examination of additional concerns worthy of potential consideration by the FDOE Office of Safe Schools.

Emergency Preparation Matters Weakly Addressed by the MSDHS Public Safety Commission Report

Pages 47-52 of the Commission report spotlight a number of failures in emergency response at MSD High School. One of these failures was the significant delay in public address alert. Unaware that an attack was in progress, approximately 100 students massed in the third floor hallway after a fire alarm was activated by Cruz’s gunfire on the ground level. Although most students in process of evacuating found refuge before Cruz arrived at their location, twenty students and three teachers were caught in the hallway when the onslaught began on the third floor.

The Commission report describes the absence of a district policy for active assailant situations and lack of recent training and drills as contributing factors to the delayed public address alert. On pages 84-85 (Section 3.1), the Commission proposes a number of measures to address these matters in addition to other conditions which contributed to the tragedy at MSD High School. Although CIS endorses all of the recommendations proposed in Section 3.1, there are a number of important issues addressed in general terms that would benefit from improved emphasis and specificity.

The recommendations on pages 84-85 state, “All staff should have clearly established roles and responsibilities that are outlined in a written policy and procedure manual provided to all personnel,” and, “Every district and school should have a written, unambiguous Code Red or similar active assailant response policy that is well known to all school personnel, parents, and students.” However, the Commission provides no specific recommendations for faculty training or improved guidelines for scheduling active shooter drills to remedy the vague direction of Florida Statute 1006.07(4)(a): “Drills for active shooter and hostage situations shall be conducted at least as often as other emergency drills.”

CIS recommends that Florida schools adopt the Guardian SafeSchool Program® standard for faculty training by mandating annual instruction in emergency procedures before the commencement of each school year in addition to active shooter drills. In our work with school clients, we typically present faculty training sessions as a two-hour program at the beginning of each academic year and whenever promulgating a new school Emergency Response Plan. Topics normally include an overview of the school’s emergency team structure, communications systems (including key notification and alert procedures), imminent threat response, reunification procedures, and a module on recognizing warning behaviors associated with targeted aggression.

Although the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report describes the need for campus-wide public address (PA) notification, the report offers little recommendation for the design of reliable PA system infrastructure. Many Florida schools do not have public address systems which can be used reliably under high stress conditions. Schools with analog public address systems often have base stations positioned in highly vulnerable locations such as main reception offices. Schools with analog public address systems should consider replacing these systems with modern IP‐based public address or phone systems which can facilitate emergency announcements from versatile locations throughout the school. Phone-based systems which require dialing an extension or entering a code to access the ‘all call’ function should be programmed with numbers that are easy to remember and simple to dial under stress (e.g., ‘111,’ ‘777,’ etc.). Additionally, all faculty members should be trained and fully empowered by policy to issue PA announcements when attack events are first recognized.

As another concern, many Florida schools do not presently have a mass notification system that can be reliably used to alert staff as a redundant mode of communication. Critical public address announcements should always be followed by a redundant message via digital mass notification system (MNS) for those who may not have heard the initial announcement. When important developments occur, updates can be issued to teachers as follow up messages. Circumstances warranting updates may include notification when police are clearing the building or if a unique threat emerges, such as a building fire.

Mass notification systems should be easy to use under stress and optimally feature pre‐configured messages for key alerts to minimize the time required to type and send messages. A good mass notification plan should also include facility‐wide Wi‐Fi access and employ a mass notification system with iOS and Android applications to facilitate Internet messaging in the event there are areas inside the structure with SMS signal interference.

As the FDOE Office of Safe Schools (OSS) progresses in 2019 toward developing best practices for Florida schools, CIS strongly recommends that the OSS promulgate guidelines for the development and performance of reliable emergency communications infrastructure.

To the credit of the Commission, we are glad to see the Level II recommendation: “Provide school personnel with a device that could be worn to immediately notify law enforcement of an emergency.” As we’ve discussed in other LinkedIn articles, any measure which simplifies and expedites alert to a response force (e.g., police, SRO, on-site armed security, etc.) has a noteworthy benefit in improving system performance.

Concerns Regarding Reconciling Security Needs with Negative Impact on School Climate

In 2014, the National Association of School Psychologists released a position paper expressing great concern over the implementation of high profile security measures on school climate and culture (two of the most important principles in creating a successful learning environment).[i] As support for their concern, the NASP paper cites a number of studies which outline the negative impact of high profile security measures in schools.[ii] [iii][iv]

Responsible approaches to school security design should carefully balance the risk of violence against potential negative impact on the school’s overall mission of providing good education. Beyond negative impact on the school’s educational mission, anything that suppresses positive school climate also directly conflicts with the objective of proactively reducing threat conditions.

In the context of school security, proactive risk management starts with reducing potential threat. This is first accomplished by reducing the potential conditions that contribute to advancement on the targeted violence pathway. Reinforcement of positive school climate, creating strong bonds between staff and students, mentoring students with problems, actively intervening in bullying situations, and restorative practices are all examples of measures aimed at reducing threat. All aforementioned measures reduce threat by creating an atmosphere where social marginalization is discouraged, bullying is not tolerated, and students feel trust in reporting student behaviors of concern. Considering the high frequency of leakage (communication of violent intent to a third party) in advance of attacks by students, the US Secret Service and National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime have repeatedly emphasized the importance of school climate in breaking the classroom ‘code of silence.’ [v][vi]

High profile security measures and haphazard implementation can easily frustrate this effort. As stated by K.C. Poulin, the CEO of CIS, “If you make an environment feel like a prison, don’t be surprised when the community members feel and act like inmates.”

To address these concerns, school security programs should be specifically engineered to create “invisible” layers of prevention and preparedness that are largely unnoticed by students. This low-profile approach should be consistent in all aspects of the program, from procedural design to physical security measures.

Regretfully, there are aspects of the MSDHS Pubic Safety Commission’s recommendations and the provisions of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act which overlook the importance of potential impact on school climate.

As a Level III recommendation, page 349 states: “Metal detectors and x-ray machines at campus entrances.”

Although metal detectors are commonly used in urban school districts historically plagued by youth gun crime, this measure is often counter-productive to security (proactive threat reduction via positive school climate) and operationally burdensome. First, studies of the use of metal detectors in schools have demonstrated inconclusive results in reducing violent behavior among students.[vii][viii]

In regard to school climate, the use of metal detectors boldly communicates distrust in the student population and potentially reinforces the ‘wall of psychological/social separation’ further between students and the administration. Measures that communicate distrust to the general student population directly counter our greater aim of creating an atmosphere where threat activity witnessed by students is likely to be reported.

Security and School Climate and Culture

In addition to the concern about impact on school climate, schools that opt to implement screening with metal detectors and x-ray machines should carefully assess the costs and operational requirements before committing to this measure. Throughput rate alone is a serious issue of consideration. Walkthrough metal detectors typically have a throughtput rate of 15-25 people per minute.[ix] X-ray machine operators can typically scan 10-20 objects per minute.[x] With these general throughput rates in consideration, it would take a single-lane inspection station 75-150 minutes to process a high school of 1,500 students arriving for class. Even if two x-ray stations were employed with a single metal detector, it would only improve throughput rate to 60-100 minutes. Additional considerations include space requirements for screening stations and cueing lines at campus entry points, staffing and personnel training, financial cost of equipment ($30,000+ for x-ray machines alone), maintenance, etc. Achieving any level of practical efficiency would require significant investment and operational burden or compromised effectiveness by limiting screening to a subset of students.

CIS recommends that metal detectors and x-ray screening be reserved for situations where there is a clear cost-benefit advantage (such as schools in locations where gun crime is a persistent problem).

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act’s Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program requires that candidates complete 132-hours of firearm safety and proficiency training, psychological evaluation, drug tests; and complete certified diversity training. However, there are no training requirements related to interpersonal relations skills, social network development, conflict resolution, targeted violence behavior, threat assessment methodology, or other critical school security topics such as emergency response.

Several Florida school districts (e.g., Broward, Hillsborough, etc.) have opted to employ armed security officers in some schools rather than utilize employee Guardians or School Resource Officers (SROs). However, none of these districts have implemented specific measures to recruit and train candidates with superior communication skills and proven ability to work with youth in school environments. This problem also extends to law enforcement agencies throughout the state in the selection of personnel for School Resource Officer programs. Unfortunately, few law enforcement agencies incentivize officers with exceptional combination of both tactical and interpersonal communications skills to join SRO programs. Rather, SRO programs are often culturally‐viewed within police departments as a demotion from road duty and other special units. SRO programs which emphasize the officer’s role as ‘law enforcer’ within the school also risk further social division between students and the administration.[xi]

In most schools, the most visible element of the security program will be the School Resource Officers, Guardians, or security officers assigned to the school. To counter any negative impact of their presence, officers should be specifically selected and trained to actively develop relationships and positive rapport within the school community.

School Security and School Climate and Culture

As an example of proactive networking as a strategic protective measure, CIS School Protection Officers use a methodology called the Community and Character Based Protection Initiative (CCBPI). CCBPI is best described as an active and intentional process of developing relationships amongst the community to engender social capital, identify threat situations, and resolve conflict. Due to the CCBPI methodology and careful officer selection, officers in schools should not only counter the negative effect of high profile security, but should be a powerful force for building and reinforcing positive school climate and culture. Unfortunately, this important matter is largely neglected in the Florida’s current School Resource Officer and district-level security officer programs.

CIS strongly recommends that the FDOE Office of Safe Schools promulgate best practices guidance for law enforcement agencies and school districts employing security officers that incentivizes recruitment of School Resource Officers with the unique combination of superior communication skills, ability to proactively work in social environments, and robust tactical capabilities. CIS also recommends that the FDOE Office of Safe Schools develop a mandatory training curriculum for Florida school security officers that encompasses at least 24-hours of instruction in interpersonal relations skills, social network development, conflict resolution, youth social dynamics, targeted violence behavior, threat assessment principles, and response to school emergencies. The CIS School Protection Officer (SPO) training program is one possible model worthy of consideration.

Conclusion

Critical Intervention Services commends the noble effort of the Governor, Florida Legislature, and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety (MSDHS) Commission in their attempt to remedy the vulnerability of Florida schools to acts of mass violence. We are also encouraged to see the State of Florida and MSDHS Public Safety Commission recommending practices, such as behavioral threat assessment and on-site armed responders in all schools, in alignment with the principles of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program®, the forerunner of Florida’s current initiatives.

However, there are many critical aspects of the current MSDHS Public Safety Commission report recommendations and State-level school security programs which would benefit from greater improvement as outlined in this article. We hope the FDOE Office of Safe Schools will consider these improvements to advance our collective goal of making Florida’s schools safer communities while simultaneously fostering environments conducive to good education.

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Copyright © 2019 by Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® consultants offer a range of services to assist schools in managing risks of active shooter violence.  Contact us for more information.


References

[i] Research on School Security. The Impact of Security Measures on Students. National Association of School Psychologists. N.p. 2014.

[ii] Phaneuf, S. W. Security in schools: Its effect on students. El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC. 2009.

[iii] Bracy, N. L. (2011). Student perceptions of high-security school environments. Youth & Society, 43, 365-395.

[iv] Schreck, C. J., & Miller, J. M. (2003). Sources of fear of crime at school: What is the relative contribution of disorder, individual characteristics and school security? Journal of School Violence, 2, 57-79.

[v] OToole, Mary Ellen. The School Shooter: a Threat Assessment Perspective. FBI Academy, 2000

[vi] Fein, Robert A. Threat Assessment in Schools: a Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates. United States Secret Service, 2004.

[vii] Hankin, A., Hertz, M., & Simon, T. (2011). Impacts of metal detector use in schools: Insights from 15 years of research. Journal of School Health, 81, 100-106.

[viii] Casella, R. (2006). Selling us the fortress: The promotion of techno-security equipment in schools. New York: Routledge.

[ix] Green, Mary. The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools. A Guide for Schools and Law Enforcement Agencies. U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Washington, DC. 1999. pp. 70.

[x] Ibid. pp. 95.

[xi] Nemeth, Charles. J. Peer Review Report of CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Officer Model. John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Center for Private Security and Safety. New York, NY. 2014.

The MSDHS Commission Report – A Security Expert’s Critique (1/2)

MSDHS Public Safety Commission Report
By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

On 02 January 2019, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) Public Safety Commission released its initial report detailing the February 2018 tragedy at MSD High School and system failures contributing to the event. Appendix B. of the report (“Target Hardening,” pages 345-350) describes proposed measures for improved security and emergency readiness in Florida schools.

The Commission’s new report follows a previous briefing released in November 2018 where target hardening measures under consideration were first presented to the public. In December, CIS submitted a critique to the Commission regarding proposed measures under consideration with the intention of correcting a number of inaccurate statements, important omissions, and a few dangerous recommendations. To the credit of the MSDHS Public Safety Commission, several of the problems described in our previous submission to the Commission have been remedied in the new report. 

Nevertheless, a number of our original concerns remain unaddressed. Although Critical Intervention Services applauds the State’s commitment to improved school security and the great effort of the MSDHS Public Safety Commission, it is our hope that spotlighting these outstanding issues will better aid Florida schools in adopting the Commission’s recommendations while avoiding potential problems resulting from the Commission’s oversight.

Concerns Regarding MSDHS ‘Hardening’ Recommendations

Following is a summary of outstanding concerns regarding physical security measures recommended in the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report.

As a Level I measure, page 345 states: “Campuses should have single ingress and egress points to the extent that is consistent with this level’s criteria of minimal cost.” As a Level II measure, page 347 states: “Fenced campuses with single ingress and egress points (could be a level III based on campus size and complexity).”

Although CIS recommends channeling access into secured campuses through a limited number of monitored entry points, the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report provides very concerning advice by recommending there be only a single egress point.

In this situation, students located outdoors during an attack are trapped unless they climb a fence to escape or encircle a campus perimeter to access a single egress point. By contrast, students located outdoors during an attack should have easy access to egress gates located abundantly around the campus perimeter. This is a very common oversight we encounter in our work as consultants with schools that have implemented fenced perimeters.

To address concerns about the exploitation of outdoor egress gates as points of entry, outdoor gates should feature mechanical exit bars and anti-manipulation features (e.g, screen mesh, acrylic panel, etc.). Exit bars featuring audible alarms can also be used to discourage exit during non-emergency situations and alert nearby staff if a student departs the campus. See the photo right as an example.

In contrast to the Commission’s advice, CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® standards recommend abundant and versatile access to secure outdoor egress gates.
Secure Egress Gate

Page 347 states: “All common use closed areas in a school must have electronically controlled doors that can be locked remotely or locally with appropriate hardware on single and double doors to resist forced entry.”

Although CIS strongly endorses the use of electronic access control systems in schools, caution should be used in the selection of hardware and system configuration to avoid creating new vulnerabilities and operational problems. Regretfully, the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report does not provide guidance about access-controlled hardware selection and system configuration.

As one example of this concern, schools should strictly avoid the use of electromagnetic locks on egress doors. Building and life safety codes universally require that egress doors equipped with electromagnetic locks ‘fail safe’ (unlocked) during fire alarms.[1]  In this situation, all fire alarm pull stations inside the school are ‘virtual master keys’ and would compromise most doors if someone activated a pull handle. In a number of previous attacks, fire alarms were manually activated by building occupants to alert others (e.g., 2013 Washington Navy Yard), activated by smoke or dust (e.g., 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 2008 Taj Majal Hotel Mumbai, etc.), or used by adversaries to deceptively herd victims outdoors for ambush (e.g., 1998 Westside Middle School, 2013 UCF, 2015 Corinthia Hotel Tripoli, etc.).  Conversely, when an alarm is not activated, electromagnetic locks require a push-to-exit switch or sensor to unlock egress doors when approached.  In tests conducted by CIS, both methods of unlocking are often unreliable when people attempt egress under high stress conditions.

CIS strongly recommends that the MSDHS Public Safety Commission provide more detailed guidance for schools to aid with proper selection of access-controlled hardware and system configuration. (NOTE: We will be posting a new article soon to address this matter comprehensively.)

As an additional recommendation about access control, report page 349 states as a Level III measure: “RFID and Near field communications (NFC) card readers should replace all door locks on campus.”

Although RFID and NFC access control systems offer great versatility and can be very useful for controlling access into school buildings, CIS strongly discourages the use of card readers and electrified locks on classrooms which may be used as safe rooms during attacks. If the access control system in the school employs card readers and an assailant recovers an access badge from a fallen staff member, all doors with programmed access will be compromised. The report’s recommendation, as written, also contradicts other statements in Appendix B. advising that door locks be installed on all classrooms that can be locked from the inside.

CIS advises that Florida schools restrict use of access-controlled locks to exterior doors, reception lobbies, and hallway doors separating interior classroom wings.

Regarding classroom doors, page 346 states: “All classroom doors should be able to be locked from inside or there must be an enforced policy that all doors remain locked at all times without exception.” Regarding events at MSDHS High School, page 45 the report states: “Individual classroom door locks could only be locked from outside the door. The teacher would have to exit their classroom and use a key to lock the door. There was no way to lock the door from within the classroom.” The related findings on page 47 state: “All of the classroom doors in Building 12 could only be locked from the exterior. Teachers inconsistently locked classroom doors and some doors were unlocked the day of the shooting. Teachers were reluctant to enter the halls to lock the doors.”

Although CIS is encouraged to see the Commission addressing concerns about standard ANSI “classroom-function” door locks, the report only addresses the matter of locking the door from the hallway-side and does not advise against locks which require a key for locking. As witnessed in a number of shooting events, doors equipped with classroom-function locks often remain unlocked due to difficulty locating or manipulating keys under stress. Some examples of incidents where this situation clearly contributed to unnecessary casualties include the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and 2007 Virginia Tech attack. In those two events alone, 26 students and faculty were killed and 24 wounded specifically because their doors could not be secured once the attack was in progress. [ii] [iii] Another recent example of an unlocked classroom due to a missing key occurred during the December 2017 shooting at Aztec High School.[iv]

The limited recommendations provided in the Commission’s report would make “classroom security function” locks (ANSI mortise F09/bored F88) permissible in Florida schools.  Classroom security function locks can be locked from inside the classroom, but still require a key for locking.

CIS strongly advises against the use of all locks classified by ANSI as “classroom function.” CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® standards recommend ANSI/BHMA A156 Grade 1 locks with an ANSI lock code of F04 or F82 (office function).[v] Mechanical locks rated ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 have been successfully evaluated under a variety of static force and torque tests.  Locks coded as F04 and F82 feature buttons or thumbturns to facilitate ease of locking under stress.

As a Level I measure, page 346 states: “Classroom doors should either have no windows or every door should be equipped with a device that can readily block line of sight through the window, but does not indicate occupancy…First floor outside windows should be able to be blocked from line of sight.” As a Level III measure, page 348 states: “Install ballistic resistant glass covering on classroom interior door windows… Install classroom door windows that are small enough to restrict access and located a sufficient distance from the door handle to prevent a person from reaching through to unlock the door from the interior.”

Although these measures are sound in principle, there are several concerns with the Commission’s recommendations as presented in the report. First, the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report only recommends ballistic resistant glass on door “windows” and makes little mention about the intrusion-resistance of door vision panels, classroom hallway windows, and first floor glazing. Although it would be ideal if door vision panels were protected by ballistic-resistant glazing, such recommendations are impractical in installation and very difficult to justify from a cost-benefit perspective. A more practical and critical objective (which often can be addressed without significant expense) is delaying and deterring adversaries from breaching windows to enter occupied spaces.

According to testing documented by Sandia National Laboratories, 0.25 inch tempered glass provides 3-9 seconds of delay against an intruder using a fire axe and the mean delay time for penetrating 1/8″ tempered glass with a hammer is 0.5 minutes.[vi]  However, impact testing documented by Sandia did not account for the fragility of a tempered glass specimen after first being penetrated by firearm projectile. In penetration tests Critical Intervention Services conducted of 1/4-inch tempered glass windows using several shots from a 9mm handgun to penetrate glazing prior to impact by hand, delay time was only 10 seconds.[vii] This vulnerability was exploited by Adam Lanza during his entry into Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.[viii]

Active Shooter Tempered Glass

Some practical options for upgrading existing window glazing include laminated glass, polycarbonate (for door vision panel replacement), and reinforcing existing windows with properly attached anti-shatter film. All the aforementioned options can increase the delay time performance of windows by 90 seconds or more against firearm-aided forced entry.

We strongly advise Florida schools to adopt the Guardian SafeSchool Program® standards regarding glazing and prioritize upgrade of any vulnerable tempered glass vision panels, classroom hallway windows, and first floor exterior classroom glazing prior to the Commission’s recommendations of ballistic resistant door windows.

The following is a summary of essential protective measures for classrooms suitable for refuge during imminent threat situations.

Active Shooter Safe Room Classroom Design

As a Level II measure, page 347 recommends: “Use protective bollards at campus entrances.”

Although anti-vehicle barriers are an effective measure to reduce the risk of vehicle ramming as a means of attack or entry, vehicle ramming has been historically rare inside the United States by comparison to other forced entry and attack techniques. This fact is also pointed out in the Commission’s report on page 14: “Vehicles have been used as weapons in terror attacks including one attack against students at a university in the US.  No vehicles were used in any of the K-12 school attacks.” When approached from a cost-benefit perspective, funds allocated to installing bollards would often be better applied in addressing more critical vulnerabilities (e.g., glazing, locks, etc.).

As another matter, the effectiveness of bollards largely depends on their kinetic energy tolerance in relation to the energy generated upon vehicle impact (determined by vehicle mass and approach velocity).[ix]  This issue should be carefully assessed in any situation where bollards are installed to ensure performance as expected.

If the objective of bollards is to prevent forced entry into a protected campus, requirements for utility vehicle access will also require schools to install crash-rated active barricades at vehicle gates to ensure complete protection. Specification standards relevant to active anti-vehicle barricades include ASTM F-2656-07 and/or IWA 14-1.[x]  However, the price of crash-rated anti-vehicle barricades is likely far beyond the budget of most schools.

CIS recommends that Florida schools downgrade the priority of installing bollards until all other critical security improvements are completed. The unique exception to this general advice would be the protection of playgrounds located near roads and parking lots.

Continued in Part Two

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Copyright © 2019 by Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® consultants offer a range of services to assist schools in managing risks of active shooter violence. Contact us for more information.


References

[1] International Code Council. International Building Code, 2012. Country Club Hills, IL: International Code Council, 2011.

[ii] Sedensky, Stephen J. Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Danbury, Ct.: Office of the State’s Attorney. Judicial District of Danbury, 2013. Print.

[iii] Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech. April 16, 2007. Report of the Review Panel. Virginia Tech Review Panel. August 2007. pp.13.

[iv] Matthews, Justin. “Substitute unable to lock doors during shooting.” KOAT Action News. 9 December 2017. http://www.koat.com/article/substitute-unable-to-lock-doors-during-shooting/14399571. Accessed 17 December 2017.

[v] ANSI/BHMA A156.13, Mortise Locks and Latches. Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), New York, NY, 2011.

[vi] Barrier Technology Handbook, SAND77-0777. Sandia Laboratories, 1978. pp. 16.3-39

[vii] Critical Intervention Services assisted window film manufacturer Solar Gard Saint-Gobain in 2015 in conducting a series of timed penetration tests of unprotected tempered glass windows and glazing reinforced with anti-shatter film. The author personally supervised and witnessed these tests.

[viii] Sedensky, Stephen J. Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Danbury, Ct.: Office of the State’s Attorney. Judicial District of Danbury, 2013. Print.

[ix] UFC 4-022-02, SELECTION AND APPLICATION OF VEHICLE BARRIERS. US Department of Defense, N.p.: 2010.

[x] Guide to Active Vehicle Barrier (AVB) Specification and Selection Resources. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC, 2016.

Assault weapons bans, armed teachers, and other school security “magic solutions”

Florida School Security Problems
By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

Like the film Ground Hog Day, every time an act of mass violence captures the public’s attention we witness Democrats pitted against Republicans in attempts to sell the school security “magic solutions.” This time, the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School reignited furor over assault weapons laws on a scale not seen since Sandy Hook in 2012. Countering this approach, President Trump is promoting arming teachers in the classroom. Unfortunately, both ideas promise little other than political gridlock and distraction from more practical school security matters.

As a security consultant, most of my career has been focused on protecting organizations against targeted violence (e.g., school attacks, workplace violence, etc.). When designing protective strategies, I always adopt an approach that weighs the practicality and cost of countermeasures against their anticipated benefit.

Let me first address the assault weapons issue. Speaking from the perspective of risk management, we’re deluding ourselves if we believe a new assault weapons ban is going to achieve the type of risk reduction as promoted by advocates. According to our analysis of 401 incidents of actual and attempted school attacks, only 4% of incidents involved firearms classified as assault weapons.[i] Although there’s no doubt assault weapons are efficient at killing, handguns are far more common and have been equally deadly in previous events. Let’s not forget, the deadliest school shooting to date was the 2007 Virginia Tech attack perpetrated with a handgun.[ii] Whether we like it or not, the American gun genie has been out of the bottle since the birth of our nation. With millions of assault weapons already in private possession, no new prohibition is going to prevent accessibility without sweeping the nation door-by-door.

Likewise, belief that waiting periods will have an impactful benefit on school safety is also flawed. Almost all acts of mass homicide in schools are examples of targeted violence precipitated by months or even years of ideation, planning, and preparation. There is a considerable body of research on this matter. Contrary to common belief, most mass killers acquire their weapons well in advance of attacks as part of the preparation process.

Similarly, President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers is equally futile. Purdue University’s 2014 Mitigating Active Shooter Impact study analyzed this option as part its assessment of alternative response models for school shootings. Contrary to the claims of gun advocates at the time of the report’s publication, the Purdue team’s results demonstrated little benefit from the presence of armed teachers over classic response by off-site police. [iii] Besides, encouraging teachers to carry weapons in the classroom is culturally akin to adding Sean Hannity to the MSNBC nightly lineup.

Bear in mind, my cynicism on these matters has no relation to Second Amendment rights or dismay over our President’s ideas. On a personal level, I couldn’t care less if we pass a new assault weapons law or authorize concealed carry for teachers. My concern is the distraction from overlooked issues in school security and the public’s belief in a “magic solution.”

While our President tweets and the gun control circus rages on, significant vulnerabilities in schools remain quietly ignored. One simple example is use of locks classified by ANSI as “classroom function” in most American schools. These are perhaps the worst choice of locks possible for lockdown purposes. Classroom function locks are only lockable by a key from the outer side of the door. As witnessed in a number of shooting events, doors equipped with classroom-function locks often remain unlocked due to difficulty locating or manipulating keys under stress. Some examples of incidents where this situation clearly contributed to unnecessary casualties include the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and 2007 Virginia Tech attack. [iv] [v] In those two events alone, 26 students and faculty were killed and 24 wounded specifically because their doors could not be secured.

Another unaddressed vulnerability in American schools is use of tempered glass in door vision panels and wall glazing. Tempered glass provides only seconds of delay against forced entry by a gunman.[vi] This vulnerability was exploited by Adam Lanza when entering Sandy Hook Elementary.[vii]

Of greatest concern is the absence of professional on-site responders in most K-8 schools. There is a direct correlation between the magnitude of tragedy during shooting events and the intervention time of armed responders. When teaching seminars, I address this matter using the principles of physical security mathematics. This was also spotlighted by the Purdue team. All studies, analytical and anecdotal, reveal the same conclusion—the best way to mitigate the effects of an active shooter attack is rapid intervention by armed responders reliably located on campus.

Regarding emergency preparedness, most American schools still have deficient emergency plans, minimal training for faculty and students, poor communications infrastructure, and similar problems. Many schools also employ dangerous response procedures such as vague, coded announcements during active shooter attacks (e.g., “Mr. Jones is in the building”) perfectly crafted to generate confusion and ambiguity.

On February 23rd, Governor Scott of Florida introduced a new strategy for addressing many of these more practical matters of school safety. I realize “No ANSI classroom-function locks” and “No tempered glass windows” make lousy slogans for protest signs. But truthfully, these are some of the many vulnerabilities affecting our schools that can be addressed through new best practices and funding. Governor Scott’s proposed plan seems to address these issues. But like all great plans, the devil’s always in the details.

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UPDATE 01/28/2019 – Click here to view our critique of new security measures proposed by Florida’s MSDHS Public Safety Commission.

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[i] Gundry, Craig S. “Integrated Security Planning for School Administrators.” John Jay College of Criminal Justice. 08 May 2015. New York, NY.

[ii] Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech. April 16, 2007. Report of the Review Panel. Virginia Tech Review Panel. August 2007.

[iii] Anklam, Charles , Adam Kirby, Filipo Sharevski, and J. Eric Dietz. “Mitigating active shooter impact: Analysis for policy options based on agent/computer-based modeling.” Journal of Emergency Management 13.3 (2015): 201-16. Web. 6 Mar. 2017

[iv] Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Office Of The State’s Attorney Judicial District Of Danbury, Stephen J. Sedensky III, State’s Attorney, N.p., 25 November 2013. pp.18

[v] Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech. April 16, 2007. Report of the Review Panel. Virginia Tech Review Panel. August 2007. pp.13.

[vi] Critical Intervention Services assisted window film manufacturer Solar Gard Saint-Gobain in 2015 in conducting a series of timed penetration tests of unprotected tempered glass windows and glazing reinforced with anti-shatter film. The author personally supervised and witnessed these tests. Video is available online.

[vii] Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Office Of The State’s Attorney Judicial District Of Danbury, Stephen J. Sedensky III, State’s Attorney, N.p., 25 November 2013. pp.18