Experts Advising A Change In School Security Tactics

Wednesday, April 18th 2007, 10:15 am
By: News On 6

Some experts say it may be time for a change in tactics when it comes to an active shooter on a campus. They wonder if the prevailing theory of doing a lockdown and having everyone remain where they are is the best plan. Many of the victims locked or barricaded themselves in their classrooms and got under their desks at Virginia Tech because that's what students have been trained to do, but News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports after so many cases of multiple murders, some safety experts believe it's time to rethink that training.

Tulsa's SWAT team members are constantly training for different scenarios, planning for the unexpected. Captain Tracie Crocker is the head of the team and says that's a good mentality for everyone to have.

"After all these things, why is not every student saying to themselves, what would I do if?” said Crocker. “I keep hearing, I can't believe it happened here, where do they think it happens?"

Crocker says knowing it could happen to you and talking about it helps people form a plan. Rogers High students got a feel for an in-school incident during police training in 1996. Police say lockdown may work in some cases, evacuation in others, creating a diversion, jumping out a window, even attacking the gunman are all things that should be considered.

"You have to think outside the box and do something,” said Crocker. “You can't sit there and pray you're not going to be picked. That's what he wants, people who won't do anything."

Crocker is advising Jenks schools on revising their security plan. She says most plans don't consider a gunmen hitting in between classes when kids are in hallways rather than classrooms, which is a very target rich environment. The first step toward survival is understanding the threat is real.

“You've got to talk to your kids,” said Crocker. “It could happen. It happened at TU. The only thing that changed that deal was the guy had a gun that misfired."

That incident last year ended after the intended victim tackled the gunman and held him for police. No one was hurt.

Crocker says each person is responsible for their own safety. They can't depend on school administrators or police. She compares it to people on planes now. They act immediately if something goes wrong because they know from experience that death is likely if they don't act.

She says the same mentality has not made its way into schools because teenagers, rather than adults, are involved. She says it's time to tell teenagers that they have options. If there was ever a time to throw a chair through a window, it's when a gunman is shooting people just a few feet away.