How to Manage Active Shooter Incidents in K – 12 Schools: Pairing Technology with Strategy

It was about 2 p.m. one afternoon when Shannon Neubauer found himself walking down an empty hallway at the Nebraska junior high school he had attended nearly 25 years earlier. As he reminisced, he heard sounds coming from the boys’ bathroom. He walked through the doorway and saw three students attacking a fourth boy. He was aware only school personnel should intervene, so he quickly exited and notified a teacher across the hall.

It was pure luck that Shannon happened to be passing by the restroom. The irony is that he is a security professional by trade, who was at the school to discuss installing additional cameras and other equipment to an existing unified security platform – with audio elements that can “listen” 24 hours a day for incidents just like the one he witnessed.

“Technology is giving us a way to take fallible humans out of safety situations, and that’s a good thing, especially when it comes to active shooter situations in K – 12 schools,” Neubauer said. “People can’t be everywhere at once. And we can’t always depend on humans to follow through in the heat of the moment.”

It’s not unusual for training to fail during a violent event. “During a panic, the school secretary may forget to press a panic button, or they might be the first one targeted by a shooter,” Neubauer explained, “If a manual panic button protocol fails for whatever reason, then lives are doubly at risk.”

Schools are not the only ones that need to remove the human element when seconds count. As technological tools have advanced over the past few decades, schools, retail establishments, government buildings and many other venues increasingly have been able to use technology to improve security – and save lives.

Today’s best-practices for school security systems are composed of three main elements: access control, event detection and response, and having these all feed into a unified security platform.

The key is to combine technology with well-thought-out strategies and training.