Editor's Note (The View From Here)
A Sad Truth
- By Deborah P. Moore
- October 1st, 2015
I can vividly remember packing my kids up and sending them to school. I worried about things like their homework being finished, their clothes being ironed, if I packed them a healthy lunch — I never worried about them facing a gunman at school, or never seeing them again.
Every one of you has talked about the shootings that took place at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary. But how many of you have realized that since Sandy Hook (December 2012), there have been at least 142 school shootings — an average of one a week — when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds? Sadly, I find myself again writing about an active shooter incident on campus where nine people were killed and nine were injured when a gunman opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College. It was students’ fourth day of class. It was also the fourth shooting at a U.S. college campus since August.
I realize that it would be foolish for us to think that we can prevent all crime on campus, but it would be irresponsible of us not to do everything in our power to make our schools safer. We need to do more than talk about the latest event for the next few months… then forget, do nothing and just move on. Lack of funding can no longer be used as an excuse, and the “ostrich” method is not a viable plan.
This is a view that is shared by many, including Patrick Fiel of PVF Security Consulting LLC, formerly the executive director of school security for the Washington, DC, public school system. Patrick suggests that schools and universities seek out and work with security experts to put a comprehensive plan in place. “A thorough risk assessment is the best investment to identify their strengths and correct security weaknesses before they become a problem. The resulting assessment will be the basis for developing a strategic security plan.”
He is also a strong advocate of a police officer being assigned to all campuses. It is his opinion that there are still too many schools and universities not up to par and he would like to see minimum, mandatory standards for them to follow — access control, communications/mass notification and CCTV solutions among the primary solutions. He also believes that in all cases the key is prevention, preparation, response and recovery. That requires security technology, but also advance planning and training for all staff and students on the active shooter.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by recent events. My hope is that we remember for longer than 90 days, we stop making excuses and we take action now to improve school and campus safety.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.