America’s conscience was awakened after Columbine High School tragedy
There probably isn’t a single person that hasn’t heard of the tragic loss of life at Columbine High School. On April 20, 1999. America’s conscience was awakened to the harsh new reality of the evil that lurks within our midst, our neighborhood, and in our schools. Two students set a plan in motion to amass a large body count of fellow students, teachers, and anyone else that were unlucky enough to cross their path on that fateful day. The result was 12 students, and one teacher lost their lives. The two shooters committed suicide.
The Columbine tragedy shocked the world and had a drastic impact on how school safety would be evaluated. As a Police Officer of more than three decades, I have witnessed the changes in law enforcement regarding the threat of an active shooter situation. Prior to that fateful day in 1999, it was the preferred course of action for Police to respond and wait for 2 to 3 more officers before entering the building. The thought process was to utilize a diamond-style formation to cover ground quickly while providing maximum coverage to the front, sides, and rear of the team. Unfortunately, the flaw to the design is that it took too much time to establish and precious minutes were ticking away as a determined shooter was increasing his body count. The Columbine tragedy exemplified this as it was 47 minutes after the shooting started before a SWAT team entered the building. So, what changed? The tactics in virtually every law enforcement agency within the United States switched to a Single Officer Response Technique (SORT) to prevent any delay. Essentially, the first officer to arrive enters the building, follows the sound of gunfire, and terminates the threat. It’s not a pretty thought, but it’s the job that has to be done to save innocent lives. God bless each and every officer that assumes that responsibility as they start each day.
The tactics in virtually every law enforcement agency within the United States switched to a Single Officer Response Technique (SORT) to prevent any delay.
I have also observed the addition of Safety Drills to include “Lockdowns” since April 20, 1999. Much like the drills designed to keeps student safe during natural disasters or fires, the Lockdown drill has arrived on the scene. Fueled by safety training like ALICE or RUN-HIDE- FIGHT, the locking and barricading of classroom and office doors has become a main staple in preventing unwanted entry to rooms. The FBI cited that the United States was witness to 20 active shooter incidents in 2015, 20 in 2016, and 30 in 2017.1 Clearly, there was an immediate need to harden these soft-target areas. Nationally there has been a desire to acquire additional layers of safety for the doors and products like the Bolo Stick door barricade became a must-have item to be added to existing security protocols. Preventing the unwanted entry of a focused attacker was at the top of the “To Do” list. The barricading of classrooms and offices creates a refuge for people by placing additional obstacles in the way of the active shooter. The delay created by these types of barricades allows law enforcement the time needed to arrive on the scene.
Schools everywhere have re-visited the need for armed personnel on site. The old adage that “it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun” has quickly gained popularity. Schools nationwide have sought the services of local law enforcement officers to patrol their hallways. These officers are referred to as School Resource Officers or “SRO’s.” How popular has this idea become? The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) states that there are between 14,000 and 20,000 SRO’s deployed in schools nationwide. 2 The idea behind it is that the SRO can gather information, establish relationships, and effectively reduce response time if an incident should occur. In short, the SRO is on-scene before and as it happens.
There have been numerous efforts underway since 1999 to harden the soft-target schools. Some include evaluating physical/landscape design, strengthening glass facades, and limiting access points for entrances and exits. Indeed, no single action will provide 100% safety against the violence in an evil mind, but the building of layered protective options dramatically increases the chances of surviving the next attempt.
Be aware, proactive, and safe.
Bill Barna President,
Bolo Stick LLC www.bolostick.com
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