Lockdown Drills Fail to Stop the Shot
November 6, 2016
FCPS began to practice lockdown drills in 2014, following a nationwide trend. However, a lockdown does not work well in a school environment because it forces students to hide and wait for rescue rather than fleeing. For example, in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 students and staff, students were in their classrooms when they were killed. In the Orlando nightclub shooting in June of this year, people hid in the bathrooms. A patron was recorded texting his mom that the shooter was coming closer to the bathroom. He didn’t survive.
The very thought of turning out lights and jamming students into an enclosed area is ludicrous. In the military, as well as in law enforcement, personnel are taught about cover versus concealment. Cover meaning that one would be concealed as well as protected from incoming shots, whereas concealment meaning a person is covered, but is still susceptible to incoming harm. Classrooms do not equal cover.
According to a study for the Connecticut General Assembly, most school shootings are done by a person armed with a 9mm handgun or a rifle that shoots a 5.56mm round.Of 49 shootings, from 1999 to 2013, 11 shootings were with a 9mm pistol, 11 with a rifle that shoots a 5.56mm round, eight were with a 12 gauge shotgun, and six were with a 10mm pistol. These types of rounds can easily tear through the wooden doors or desks. 5.56mm bullets can penetrate cinder block walls.
“…Lock the classroom door immediately… Keep students sitting on the floor… turn out lights if possible… If there is a phone in the room, do not use it to call out… Ignore any fire alarm activation… Remain in the room until a public safety official or member of the crisis management team comes to the room with directions.” These instructions are found in the emergency manual that are in all classrooms.This sort of highly defensive tactic is nothing but suicidal. The majority of school shootings are done by students. Having it look like classrooms are deserted would not work, since the shooter would likely be familiar with the lockdown procedure. Making students sit in groups in the dark, a couple of strides away from the fatal funnel (a term used by military and police to describe door entrances) is a recipe for disaster.
Instead of teaching them to cower and hide while waiting for the police, FCPS should teach students to establish effective escape routes.
A new program known as ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) is challenging the traditional lockdown drill. Founded by a partner team of a police officer and principal who wanted a better procedure, ALICE trains people in schools, government, and other organizations to take a practiced approach to safety.
Like ALICE, FCPS should develop a lockdown procedure that emphasizes “counter” and “evacuate” just as much as lockdown.