Chris Grollnek: We made schools safer from fires, why not from guns?

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Did you hear about all those kids who died in that big school fire last week? No? That’s because it didn’t happen. In fact, a school fire that has killed 10 or more children hasn’t happened in about 65 years.

But of course you’ve heard about all the recent school shootings where so many children have died. In fact, as of June 15, an Education Week analysis shows that there have been 23 school shootings already this year that resulted in injuries or deaths.

In the 1950s, people had had enough of children dying in school fires. Fire codes were enacted and buildings started including fire alarms, sprinklers, and other systems that automated the response to fires and lessened their severity.

So why hasn’t this sort of commonsense plan been enacted nationwide for the scourge of school shootings?

We have the knowledge and the technology to help mitigate the problem. Just like smoke detectors that alert you to fire, we have cameras and gunshot detectors that can recognize when there’s a gun on site.

You may wonder: Why do we need automated systems at all when someone can just call 911?

Research and experience have shown that it takes four minutes for a person to realize they’re in an active shooter situation and another minute to get through to 911. So we’re wasting five minutes of precious time. By then, a shooter can already harm scores of children.

The newer automated security systems tie together camera systems using AI to recognize the shape of weapons and gunshot detectors that use energy signatures, not sound, so they’re much more accurate. These wireless sensors work indoors and outdoors, and alert you instantly when there’s a threat. And these are not products of the future. They’re already in use at some schools and other public sites.

Automated security systems can lock doors and send out customized alerts in just a couple of seconds to law enforcement, school administrators, and anyone the school wants to notify via text or email, and over PA systems. In real-time video first responders are shown exactly where the threat is so they can respond to the right spot on a campus. And they let students and teachers know, so they can move to a safer place, away from the shooter.

Even though more children are dying from gun violence than from fires, there is still no building or safety code that standardizes the use of such security systems nationwide — at least not yet. This is despite the fact that the cost for fire safety far exceeds the cost for gunshot notification systems.

School board members, architects, and every community member can speak up about enacting new regulations that will make children safer. Gun and gunshot detection systems can be specified in building codes, just like fire systems are, and can be included at both old and new schools, making them more active shooter resistant. Solutions Incorporating prevention training and technology currently exist. We just have to use them.

There have been a few first steps in the right direction with legislation like Alyssa’s Law in New Jersey and similar laws in other states. These laws, however, don’t go far enough.

We all say that children are precious, yet we seem to be unable to make even a small investment in preventing deaths from what has become an ever-present threat. If we’re going to save lives in active shooter situations at schools, it’s going to take all of us working together, agreeing that enough is enough.

Let your voice be heard. Contact your local, state, and federal representatives about active shooter prevention today.

How many more of our children will have to die before these changes are made?

Chris Grollnek is an internationally recognized active shooter prevention expert and the founder of the Active Shooter Prevention Project (ASPP) LLC, an organization that brings together top law enforcement and security professionals worldwide. He has firsthand experience inside an active shooter event and is a former Marine and retired police detective. Chris holds a postgraduate degree focusing on the phenomenon of active shooter events. He is a frequent guest and contributor to numerous national television networks and syndicated radio programs to discuss these issues.
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EAGL Technology, Inc

EAGL Technology, Inc. is an experienced security equipment manufacturer, producing solutions that address today’s real-world security concerns.

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EAGL Technology, Inc. is an experienced security equipment manufacturer, producing solutions that address today’s real-world security concerns.

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