Columbine started it all, but it wasn’t until December 14, 2012—the date of the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history—that school shootings became a dreadfully common occurrence. On that ill-fated day, 20-year old Adam Lanza shot his mother in her home in Newtown, Connecticut, and then proceeded to Sandy Hook Elementary school to kill an additional 20 children and six staff members. More than 200 school shooting incidents have followed, with 94 gun-related deaths and 156 gun-related injuries. It is safe to say that these increasingly common episodes have left parents, teachers and lawmakers alike worried for the safety of the nation’s children and ready to do whatever it takes to protect them. Connecticut is one of first of many states to take decisive action.
In New Fairfield, employees are required to wear access cards to enter the building, while parents and other visitors are required to register with the front office to gain entry. In Brookfield, entrance doors at all four schools have been fortified with $100,000 of bulletproof glass. Double buzzers adorn the doors for added security. New Milford schools linked their surveillance system with the town’s police department. And Danbury has unarmed security officers watching over and protecting the students at all 13 elementary schools in the area.
From high-tech surveillance systems to bulletproof equipment, the State of Connecticut is willing to spend millions of dollars protecting its children, as every state should. And residents can agree that the money is money well spent so long as it goes towards two things: delaying intruders and increasing response times from emergency teams. Much of that money comes from donators who just want to see school security measures tightened.
One school superintendent, Kevin Smith, says, “Our primary responsibility is to keep kids safe. This always has been the case, and if we really mean it, we should feel good about the work we are doing now. We are looking at safety in a way we never thought about in the past.”
In addition to the additional hardware and personnel, schools in the area have been advised to develop stricter emergency protocol, implement more frequent crisis drills (including active shooter drills) and develop safety committees. Schools that do follow the advice stand to receive a reimbursement from the city for money spent towards upping security measures.
Danbury Schools Spend Nearly $1,100,000 on Security Upgrades
Danbury is a fairly large school district, with 17 schools in total. Though upgrades were costly—totaling more than $450,000—the upgrades were well worth it and a significant improvement on the district’s existing safety measures. Some upgrades implemented by the district include tighter door locks, additional security cameras, panic buttons throughout the classrooms and tougher-to-access external entrances.
In addition to its own money, the district applied $350,000 in grant money to the updated security. To train their unarmed officers, Danbury schools spent the $296,000 of leftover budget money from the 2013-2014 school year. However, even after all that money was fronted towards safety measures, the school spent close to an additional $1.3 million on training and employing each school’s officers.
Possible Issues Posed by Added Security Measures
Whether a school’s upgraded security involves bulletproof glass, additional CCTV surveillance systems, bodyguards or all three, the general consensus is that the upgraded security has gone a long ways towards reestablishing parents’ trust and making school employees and students alike feel safer in their learning environment. With that said, some feel that the excess security measures are actually inconvenient.
While it is one thing to keep our kids safe, some parents worry that the over-the-top security dealings actually make schools feel like prisons. Whereas once upon a time elementary schools were warm and inviting and a place to foster independence, today they feel more like armed camps, places where growth and development is traditionally restricted.
Moreover, parents who want to visit their children during the school day, drop off a forgotten lunch or simply attend a school event have to be buzzed in and state their names. Most schools have a screening system in which each parent’s information is stored and then viewed prior to granting them entry.
Fairfield Schools Superintendent David Title says, “People are torn between security and the inconvenience that that causes. [They] still want schools to feel welcoming.”
Schools are struggling to find the right balance between creating a safe and nurturing environment. One administrator puts it best: “I think people really have to understand the purpose of schools to be safe, happy and inviting places. We have to take appropriate measures, but we can’t lose our minds and lock down our schools so they’re oppressive for kids. Our schools [need to] feel like schools.”
Mammoth Surveillance Helps Boost Security Without Being Oppressive
CCTV surveillance systems are one of our nation’s oldest forms of passive security. However, there is a reason surveillance cameras continue to be used today: they work. While deterrence is a huge benefit of security cameras for residential homes and businesses, schools don’t count on them for this purpose. This is because most school shooters don’t care about getting caught. However, security cameras do help keep schools safe in other ways. For instance, when a district’s surveillance systems are connected to the police departments as New Milford’s are, it drastically increases emergency response time. IF a shooter can gain entry to Connecticut’s schools today, a surveillance system that is linked to the police department can thwart a shooter’s progress, if not stop them entirely before they can even begin their rampage. These linked systems have the potential to save dozens if not hundreds of lives when implemented at a statewide level.
Mammoth Surveillance Danbury CT security cameras are high tech and can be installed with any emergency response system of your choosing. Whether you want to donate a security system to your kid’s school or boost the security measures at your own home or business, our Danbury surveillance installation team can make that possible. Reach out to our team today to see how we can help protect you and the ones you love!