School Security Expert Tip – Controlled Testing During School Security Assessments Demonstrates Deadly Disconnects

I apologize for my lack of blogs over the past few weeks, we are still working seven days a week trying to keep up with demand.  We have been working on more than two dozen school security assessment projects, keynoting conferences each week and working on many other short notice school security projects. 

As mentioned in an earlier blog, our analysts having been noticing some disturbing trends during our school security assessments since the tragic school shooting in Newtown.  We have run hundreds of one on one school crisis simulations using video and scripted scenarios since the Sandy Hook school shooting and are continuing to see some reactions of great concern.  The effects of stress in crisis situations are well documented and are often observed in these simulations.   We are continuing to see school staff react by stating that they would attack or otherwise try to physically disarm individuals who are brandishing a weapon but who are not depicted as an active shooter.   Test subjects have chosen these options for a student holding a gun to his head and threatening to kill himself, scenarios where they have been posed with a scenario of a man with a gun approaching the school and seventy five yards from the building and in a number of other instances where it would clearly make the situation worse to confront the aggressor.  

We encourage our clients to observe the crisis simulations during our school security assessments and they typically opt to do so.  They are continually amazed at what they see during this critical portion of the assessment process.  Concepts that may look fine in a training session or during drills where the administrator provides the instructions to take action, often fail under actual field conditions.  Improving the ability of individual staff members to make appropriate life and death decisions quickly and without waiting for approval from a supervisor may be one of the best opportunities we have to reduce mass casualty loss of human life in our schools.  Take the time to use valid testing  methodologies to evaluate what your employees are likely to do under stress rather than what we might assume they would do.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.