Why The Michigan State Police School Safety Task Force Final Recommendations Are So Important For School Lockdown System Safety
Over the past several months, our home state of Michigan has been evaluating school safety and security, which of course included the safety and effectiveness of school lockdown systems like the SmartBoot, to create their final recommendations for schools moving forward into the new year. We’re always interested in this type of evaluation because we are proud to work closely with law enforcement while implementing our system and try our best to integrate as many of their recommendations as possible during the implementation process. We work to ensure law enforcement personnel understand how the SmartBoot works, and have made changes to the system based on their input. We’re proud of their final recommendations, as they’ve put the safety of students and staff at the forefront of their processes, encouraging schools to better protect themselves and working to prevent school shootings.
Nestled in the thirty-two page document that can be found here are some very important lines for school lockdown system distributors such as ourselves. Recommendation two is specifically important and reads, “All schools should implement minimum security requirements for interior rooms”.
Line eight of recommendation two reads: “Anti-intrusion/barricade device for doors that open inward to prevent intrusion from the exterior, including control method for the device, from an active threat”.
The subtopic of this line reads, “Any device used shall comply with building and life safety codes”.
In this recommendation you’ll find some important language. First, the Michigan State Police have actively recognized that schools “should” install barricading devices on their doors. This is important because, while shutting and locking a door can be effective against an attacker who is moving from room to room without making a purposeful attempt to enter, most doors will be unable to prevent an attacker from entering if a purposeful attempt is made. Secondary barricade devices can add greater stopping power and prevent entrance to a determined attacker.
Next, we see that these devices should have a control method. In the case of the SmartBoot, as an example, this control method is our alert system in which the removal of a Boot from the SmartBox immediately triggers system activation and gives a verbal indication of “lockdown” from speakers built into the SmartBox while the SmartLight provides visual indications.
Other systems provide different means of alert and indication. This language is important because it provides schools with direction on two issues. First, tampering with, or removing of the barricading devices from the school by a potential attacker becomes extremely difficult due to the immediate lockdown trigger if this occurs. Second, the removal of a barricading device from its housing immediately triggers the system to lockdown, giving students time to escape from hallways into classrooms in which they can shelter in place after locking down the room.
Finally, in this same recommendation, the State Police have recognized that some barricading devices available to schools do not meet fire and safety codes such as egress and must not be installed for this reason. Many devices do meet these codes and are excellent choices for schools.
At The LockOut Company we want schools to be protected and if that protection comes from a system school administrators find more effective for their facility, we understand that, however, there are providers out there attempting to capitalize on recent tragedies by developing a shoddy product that doesn’t meet code requirements and marketing it to schools as an effective device.
Line six of the same recommendation details how schools should have a, “Physical protection on windows to prevent intrusion/breakthrough (grating, wire, film, etc.). Our solution to this recommendation are our Ballistics Shields, which slow an intruder and make access through glass areas much more difficult, but there are other solutions, as the recommendation mentions, such as wiring and grates.
If you had the chance to read our article Best Laid Plans: Why a Comprehensive Building Identification System is Critical to Safety and Security, you would see the emphasis we place on building planning and room identification. The final recommendations echo this importance in line eleven of recommendation two, which reads that schools should install “Labeling on exterior windows with the room name/number that matches the interior door name/number to the room”, and that “Numbers should be a minimum of eight inches in height and contrast in color from the background (reflective is preferred)”.
While it seems simple, this labeling is incredibly important when first-responders are moving through the potential chaos of a lockdown situation, especially in a worst-case scenario, trying to find rooms and areas where students may be injured or in danger.
Recommendation three deals with external security which ranges from reducing entrance to a single point during school hours to visible identification for anyone on campus. Line nineteen in this recommendation details that schools should install “Mass notification speakers and visible alarm notification should be on the interior and exterior of the building so notifications can be heard from any location”.
While likely dealing more with announcement speakers, this language is important to lockdown systems such as ours because we provide both visual alerts via the SmartLight, and auditory alerts via a verbal “lockdown” from the SmartBox. Companies like ours need to ensure our notification systems work with and enhance current school implementations, rather than impeding them in any way.
Some of the language in the final recommendation had little to do with school lockdown systems, and was more applicable to lockdown procedures as a whole, but is equally important. Line one of recommendation 2 explains that classrooms should have, “A designated area that is out of view of any intruder from the room door/inside windows during an active violence or threatening situation”. As we’ve seen during tragic loss-of-life events in schools, shooters will often fire into a room if they can see people inside leading to deaths in the rooms. By maintaining a space away from these access points that remains clear and in which a group of students and staff can shelter, classrooms can remain safe and out of view in a lockdown situation.
We recommend that you take a look at the Michigan State Police Final Recommendations yourself and learn the steps that schools are taking to protect themselves. There are several other recommendations that deal with topics which are important to students and parents.
Educating ourselves as parents and understanding what practices our schools are implementing based on law enforcement recommendations is vital to continuing to push to make our schools safer for our children and we’re proud that the Michigan State Police have taken school safety so seriously, going so far as to award $25 million via the Michigan Competitive School Safety Grant Program. These funds will allow schools to implement the safety systems and programs they need to continue to remain safe as we work to prevent violent attacks on schools.