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Recent high-profile shootings in several K-12 schools are prompting facility managers, district officials and communities across the country to revisit the security arrangements for their schools and consider new practices and technology, all in an effort to protect students, faculty and staff from the threat of an active shooter entering an underprotected facility. These reviews are including a review of the physical safety and security components of K-12 schools. Communities in Northwest Indiana offer insights into the resulting discussions and decisions.
Read: Four steps to strong school security
Rather than being stuck outside a school unable to get inside the building in the midst of a school shooting or other emergency, police departments in Northwest Indiana are turning to key fobs to assure quick entry and response.
Many police officers already carry such fobs — similar to the device on sets of newer car keys — for their own buildings. Now with the cooperation of some local schools, they can use them on the secure, electronically operated school building doors as well.
The system is new to Crown Point, Ind., where officers have access to all doors at every school in the district. Until recently, police had to enter through the main doors and be buzzed in like everyone else.
"Which is fine, but we have to plan for the worst-case scenario," says Crown Point Police Chief Pete Land. "We proposed (to the schools) that we need to have immediate access to every entry point that they have. With everything going on in today's society, we have to plan for this."
Read: Building layers of school security
St. John Police Chief James Kveton said all town police officers have magnetic cards that give them access to all doors at public schools in the town.
"The world we live in today is one where access to schools from outside must be regulated and controlled to limit any possible threat from entering the building," Kveton says. "The first step to doing that is to make sure all doors are locked with a single controlled point of access, which is usually the school's main office door. For the purpose of emergency response to the school by fire or police personnel, immediate access to the threat, be it a fire, a violent person or a medical emergency, is critical to minimize the danger or provide timely medical treatment. Having access keys in the hands of all emergency responders is critical to accomplish that goal."
This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — email@example.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.