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Active shooter in educational facility

Scott Downs, AA, BA, MS, CAS


The last decade has seen several of the most heinous acts imaginable committed against our educational facilities. In light of the recent shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Monroe (Newtown), CT, which took the lives of 20 children and six employees, a new heightened sense of awareness for safety and security among our educational facilities was created.1 The law enforcement and public-safety community is now looking to work together with many of the educational representatives across the nation to address this issue, which affects the educational environment now and in the future.

The US public and private elementary and secondary school systems’ population is approximately 55.2 million students with an additional 19.1 million students attending a 2- and 4-year college or university. These same public and private school and degree-granting institutions employ approximately 7.6 million staff members who can be an enormous threshold of potential targets.2 A terrorist's act, whether domestic, international, or the actions of a Lone Wolf against one of our educational facilities, would create a major rippling effect throughout our nation. Terrorists will stop at nothing to advance their ideology and they must continue to advance their most powerful tool—fear—to further their agenda and mission of destroying our liberty and the advanced civilization of the Western hemisphere.

To provide the safety and security for our children and those who are employed to educate them, educational institutions must address this issue as well as nullify the possible threat to our national security. This thesis used official government reports and data interview methodologies to address various concerns from within our nation's educational system. Educational personnel along with safety and security experts identified, describe, and pinpointed the recommended measures that our educational institutions should include to secure our nation from within. These modifications of evaluating and updating their current emergency operations plan, if implemented correctly, will bring heightened awareness, as well as define roles and responsibilities, to everyone involved. In addition, these implementations will assist in coordinating and strengthening a multiagency partnership's among the public-safety community that will mitigate the risk to our student body, faculty, and staff, and strengthen our national security.


active shooter, homeland security, communication, EOP, lock-down, training

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