Experts point to physical school building adjustments to keep students safe from shootings

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 2:10 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The latest school shooting in Nashville does have lawmakers calling for gun law reform, but as experts point out, there are additional ways to increase safety in schools.

Rep. Katherine Clark, D-MA, said the amount of mass shootings in the U.S. calls for serious reform.

“The attack in Nashville marked the 130th mass shooting of the year,” Clark said. “That’s not just a tragedy, it’s a choice.”

Safety consultant Ken Trump, an expert for the National School Safety and Security Services, said it is important to shift training for existing school staff.

“School officials need to be trained on situational awareness, being mindful of your surroundings, recognizing abnormalities, things that are out of line at the drop off, pick up, in the hallways,” Trump said.

Security expert Benjamin Crum, an expert in the concept of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), said physical building upgrades are key to keep shooters from getting inside in the first place.

“Upgrading to kind of security glazing that prevents someone from getting into a building even if the glazing has been shot out,” Crum said.

A licensed architect, Crum said it’s also important to design a school’s layout to prepare for a worst case scenario.

“Not just relying on the building perimeter as the security layer, but looking towards the interior of the building in ways that we can segment the building, so we can secure classroom wings to deny access to an assailant if they get into the building.”

Crum added it is important not to lose function of actual education when designing for security. He believes it’s important for students to feel like they are walking into a school as opposed to a fortress.