by James C. Sherlock

I offer an apolitical suggestion. We know how to begin to fix school security.

Do it.

Step 1. Every school division has a security instruction. How many of them monitor whether that guidance is being followed? I will let them answer that.

Step 2. The more complete solution is deployment of integrated combinations of physical and electronic security systems. System integrators who specialize in school security can help with requirements definition for any facility and tailor expandable solutions to budgets. That is their business and they are good at it.

As an example of what is possible, see ADT’s integrated intrusion security and fire detection and alarm system offerings for K-12 schools.

When people say “do something”, this is the kind of solution on which all of us can agree. Do it.

We see varying implementations of integrated security systems in residential, commercial and government buildings everywhere. It is time to bring them to every school.

K-12 security solutions can include some or all of integrated access control, intrusion alerts, intelligent video, asset management and perimeter detection solutions that can be integrated with fire solutions. Systems range in price widely depending upon both features selected and levels of support chosen from stand-alone to hosted or actively managed systems.

Long-range integrated plans can be developed by each division in coordination with security vendors that as necessary start basic and expand as budgets permit.

Virginia Department of General Services (DGS) Division of Real Estate and Facilities Management (DRFM) is already responsible for security in state buildings. DGS can establish multiple award indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) PreK-12 security vendor contracts accessible to all school divisions.

It will prove a game-changing advantage over 132 school divisions each attempting to do this on its own.

How to pay for step 2? Federal option. It helps greatly that most school divisions are having a very hard time figuring out how to spend massive influxes of federal COVID funds under the current terms and conditions.

I recommend the Youngkin administration ask the federal government for approval for school divisions to spend COVID funds on security measures. Will the federal government reject the request? We won’t know until the question is asked.

It would prove a tough “no” for the federal government executive and, if necessary, legislative branches. They, too, are under pressure to “do something” about school security.

How to pay for step 2? State and local option. Otherwise, fund it with state and local funds using existing ability-to-pay calculations. Divisions can start with basic systems and add features over time as funding permits.

Spare us the comment that the current budget negotiations are complete. They are spending an unprecedented gusher of state funds. And they all know it.

House Appropriations Chairman Barry D. Knight (R-Virginia Beach), Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) and Sen. George L. Barker (D-Fairfax) reportedly have assumed control of budget negotiations.

I recommend they and the governor consider school security as an emergency.

One of a higher priority than, say, lab schools and the Washington Commanders’ stadium.

Del. Mark D. Sickles (D-Fairfax), a budget conferee, was quoted as saying “You can’t go wrong with this much money.” So don’t.

Call the General Assembly back into special session if necessary.

And then what?  There are other steps that will be necessary, but this one should not be controversial and thus executable in the near term.

Back to the first step. Meanwhile, school divisions must enforce the school safety regulations they already have in place. That must not wait.


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Comments

73 responses to “Fix One Thing — School Physical and Electronic Security”

  1. Jim, can you point to an example of a school that has deployed a “complete solution … of integrated combinations of physical and electronic security systems”?

    I’m not opposed to your idea. I’d just like to see a pilot or two before committing to the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      There is no technology risk. Similar systems are deployed everywhere. There are much higher levels of access control available than any school would need. Look at any secure building in the D.C. area.

      As for schools, look at ADT’s school security operation. https://www.adt.com/commercial/k-12-education. This is commercial-off-the-shelf technology that any experienced integrator such as ADT can tailor to needs and budgets.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Example: Any school in Israel.

    3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Example: Any school in Israel.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        A 70 year war zone? That’s your idea of secure?

  2. When people talk about school security, they’re usually referring to deranged loners who go on killing sprees. Overwhelmingly, these are alienated, isolated and often mentally ill White adolescents in suburban school districts. Predominantly Black schools have security issues, too, but violence takes other forms. I don’t recall many school mass shooting incidents taking place in rural areas (but my memory may be deficient). The point I’m trying to make is that mass school shootings pose a greater threat to schools with certain demographics, and that any “solution” should not be applied universally but made voluntary and tailored to local conditions.

    1. Uvalde has a population of 15000 and is closer to Mexican border than it is to San Antonio. That’s pretty much rural.

      And what about the whataboutism comment for black schools? Why is that even relevant?

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        It just sounds good.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Uvalde is not a suburb. It is 50 miles from anywhere. The shooter was Hispanic.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        No doubt he was one of Trump’s Mexican rapists and murderers…

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          Just go away.

        2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          One of North Dakota’s murderers apparently.

    3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      The recommendation that I made is designed to be voluntary and tailored to local conditions. That is why it is designed not as a state solution, but rather for each school district to have access a contract developed by the state with layered options that I described.

  3. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    I think his point is to use funding wisely. Invest it into the security of schools. Whatever the community feels the best solution, the community will needs funding. Here in Petersburg, we are grappling with finding ways to keep teens busy on weekends. It would be a great solution to keeping scenes like we had when 4 teens were shot on one Friday night, but it costs money.

    1. $40 Billion to secure Ukraine’s border… nothing for our school boundaries.

      Uvalde was a failure of procedure [among other things]- an unlocked door and no RSO, then the police didn’t charge in upon arrival [the new procedure].

      I would like to know the timeline between when the CBP Tac Team arrived at the school and when it confronted the criminal? Also – did they have whips?

      Remember this: Police for ‘first responders’ which means they show up AFTER the incident happens.

      1. Regarding timing, some new news. this is actually washington examiner article: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/border-patrol-tactical-team-ordered-to-hold-back-upon-arrival-report/ar-AAXO3Tb

        On funding, this is top of google search: https://www.schoolsafety.gov/grants-finder-tool

    2. vicnicholls Avatar
      vicnicholls

      I didn’t have programs. Neither myself or others started crap like this. We amused ourselves in other ways.

      1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
        Kathleen Smith

        Well, in my neighborhood, the kids pay attention to pop culture through social media and then shoot their friends. Sad.

  4. Virginia Gentleman Avatar
    Virginia Gentleman

    Not a single suggestion for not selling guns to people under 21? Limiting ammo? Longer wait periods for Assault rifles? Just secure the boundaries. Cause the love affair with the killing machine is just too great.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      I recommended this step because apolitical fixes can actually get done.

      I happen to personally support outlawing the possession or sale of extended magazines. I favor restricting the purchase of long guns by those under 21. I favor universal background checks. I favor rigid and active enforcement of red flag laws by the psychology/psychiatry community, including school psychologists. I favor active work by the school threat assessment teams that honor first amendment protections.

      I choose not to put those on the same plate with integrated physical and electronic security for schools, which will not be politically controversial.

      Half a loaf is better than starving.

      1. Please define ‘extended magazine’ and how they are evil?

        Do you favor putting crazy people back into asylums where they can harm no one?

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          I do favor mandatory institutionalization in cases where a person is considered a danger to himself or others.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      I recommended this step because apolitical fixes can actually get done.

      I happen to personally support outlawing the possession or sale of extended magazines. I favor restricting the purchase of long guns by those under 21. I favor universal background checks. I favor rigid and active enforcement of red flag laws by the psychology/psychiatry community, including school psychologists. I favor active work by the school threat assessment teams that honor first amendment protections.

      I choose not to put those on the same plate with integrated physical and electronic security for schools, which will not be politically controversial.

      Half a loaf is better than starving.

    3. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      Despite my political inclinations as a right-leaning Libertarian, I believe that raising the age limit for the purchase of firearms (other than two shot shotguns) to 21 would be a good idea. If you are too young and immature to legally order a light beer in a bar then you are too young and immature to buy a high powered assault rifle.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        Raise the age of military service to 21 then. 18 and 19 year olds learning how to use firearms. We can’t have that.

        1. Virginia Gentleman Avatar
          Virginia Gentleman

          And raise the age of forcing a woman who was raped to have a baby to 21 – We can’t have that either.

          1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead

            320,000 babies lost in Virginia 2005 to 2018.

          2. Virginia Gentleman Avatar
            Virginia Gentleman

            Yep – that is 320k more babies that a portion will enter our broken foster care program. 320K more babies that a portion will be raised by single parents on government support. 320k more babies that will go to schools that are getting shot up regularly by kids with assault rifles. 320k more babies that a portion will go to overcrowded underfunded schools. 320K more mothers who a portion will consider more dangerous methods to not carry to full term. But stand on your moral ground and yell for lower taxes and to keep govt out of your life.

          3. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead

            Between 1754 and the present only 54,000 Virginians died in combat.

          4. Virginia Gentleman Avatar
            Virginia Gentleman

            Be careful – we don’t talk about history anymore around children.

          5. not doubting you, but what is source for that. I’m curious. It’s a much bigger number than i would have guessed.

          6. Thanks. I had seen only recent numbers rather than the pre 2015 numbers. That is a substantial reduction peak to trough.

      2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
        energyNOW_Fan

        Agree with DJR, obviously there is a safety issue with guns in the 18 yr and less old category.

        1. vicnicholls Avatar
          vicnicholls

          I’ve taught underage kids (even at 12) how to handle long guns. There are others I would not. Depends on the character, not the law or anything else.

          1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
            Kathleen Smith

            Character is hard to measure by age isn’t it?

      3. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
        f/k/a_tmtfairfax

        But you aren’t too young to start body-altering treatments without parental consent if you think you have a different gender. Must be related to a penumbra somewhere.

  5. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
    f/k/a_tmtfairfax

    Fairfax County Public Schools have and have had a policy of requiring all exterior doors to be locked and require all visitors to use the main door (Marked as Door #1). Visitors must present ID, state the purpose of the visit, have a photo taken and wear a badge with the photo included.

    Fool proof? Monster proof? Probably not, but certainly better than leaving doors open. But it doesn’t do much for a CNN reporter.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Uvalde had the same rules. Writing them is easy. I asked the question of how the school divisions are ensuring compliance. Perhaps ask the next school board meeting in every jurisdiction in Virginia.

      1. DJRippert Avatar
        DJRippert

        Alarm unlocked doors? The alarm sounds until the door is locked. Only school officials can turn the unlocked door alarms off.

        Pretty cheap really.

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          Exactly. That is a starter-level modification that is an excellent example of how a systems solution can start.

        2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead

          How is Alexandria going to fix this? Massive brawl with a stabbing death off campus across the street during school hours? Same day as Texas. WTF? Who is running that school?

          1. vicnicholls Avatar
            vicnicholls

            I didn’t have programs, etc. No violence and no out of control kids.

      2. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
        f/k/a_tmtfairfax

        Training & auditing.

        Did you ever see the cable show Disasters at Sea? There have been a number of episodes featuring ship sinkings because various watertight doors were open.

        We had a theft at our law office in Tysons. Our doors were open during business hours. Our managing partner said that, from now on, the doors are to be locked at all times. It was a bit inconvenient, but keeping the doors locked provides some protection for people in the office.

        Decades ago, our church put a lock and alarm on an emergency door often used by parishioners leaving services. The alarm only went off a couple of times before everyone stopped using it.

        We didn’t need to take off our coats, belts and shoes before going to the gate at an airport. A pain in the butt. However, we all do it now.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    My old school Briar Woods dismantled the office and the library and flipped their locations so that the first thing a visitor passes by is the main office not the old library. Spent millions doing this. It seemed like a good way to harden a school. Under the original plan visitors walked past the library first. Main office down the hall past the lobby.

  7. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    It is mind boggling that in this day and age, doors are unlocked like that one was in Uvalde. Sicko just walked in. But this is going to be ugly for the police who sat on their asses outside for an hour. No Marshal Dillon there, baby, no rip-roaring Texas Rangers. Mall cops waiting on the federal border patrol cavalry.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Do you really believe that report? Story’s evolving faster than the internet can keep up. One version has him outside the school, shooting, for over 10 minutes. But then, gunfire in that part of Texas is as common as bird songs.

  8. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    It is a shame that we only talk of solutions after an event that is just incomprehensible. In this month’s case, two events. Mental health is a critical problem in schools post-Covid. It was there prior to, but the at home remedy has exasperated the problem in teens. Kids are social animals, we have to keep their mental health in any solution.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Sorry Kate, but they talk of anything but the solution.

  9. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Another Sherlock “ooooh bright and shiny” pieces.

    A partial list of the Captain’s areas of SME:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Contents/Human_activities

  10. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    What does it say about the United States that we are the only developed nation which has to contemplate “hardening” the security of our schools and spending many millions of dollars on security measures to protect our children from being shot?

    By the way, I heard on the radio an intriguing suggestion from a gun owner: Stop talking about gun control and start talking about controlling the sale of ammo. After all, the Second Amendment may give people to right “bear arms” but it does not say anything about the right to buy ammunition. We could treat everyone like Andy treats Barney in Mayberry–let them have one bullet.

    1. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      “What does it say about the United States that we are the only developed nation which has to contemplate “hardening” the security of our schools and spending many millions of dollars on security measures to protect our children from being shot?”

      That statement says you haven’t looked very hard to disprove your own Bias.

      “By the way, I heard on the radio an intriguing suggestion from a gun owner: Stop talking about gun control and start talking about controlling the sale of ammo. After all, the Second Amendment may give people to right “bear arms” but it does not say anything about the right to buy ammunition. We could treat everyone like Andy treats Barney in Mayberry–let them have one bullet”

      Using the same rational that was decided under Heller a ammunition ban would be Unconstitutional.

      1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
        energyNOW_Fan

        short answer: 2nd Amendment means we have to accept the risk of unwanted gun violence.

    2. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
      f/k/a_tmtfairfax

      What boggles my mind as an attorney is the comparison between the debate on Griswold/Roe/Casey, which are supported by no more than an emanation and a penumbra and the right to bear arms that is supported not only by a specific constitutional amendment but also by hundreds of years of precedent.

      In 1181, Henry II’s Assize of Arms required every Englishman to have arms “suitable to his degree, even down to the man who need but bows and arrows.” F.W. Maitland, The Constitutional History of England” based on his famous course of lectures given at Cambridge University in 1887 & 1888, at page 162. “Every man, according to his degree, is to have suitable weapons–even the poorest man is to have his spear and helmet.” Ibid., at 276.

      There were no armories in the 12th Century. Rather, the Englishman had his arms at home. And the reference to bows and arrows as well as a spear clearly indicates there was no limit on the lethal nature of what an Englishman could and was required to possess. This sets the base for the 2nd Amendment and demonstrates the intent of Congress and the states in adopting and ratifying the 2nd Amendment.

      One might retort that the 12th Century is too far in the past to effect the laws of 21st Century America. OK, then, when do we cut off precedent? And who decides? Keep in mind that establishing a uniform cutoff date will cut in places that will enrage the left on some issues as well. And if it’s pick and choose, we are no better than those who believe in in emanations and penumbras to secure important rights.

      No, treat the 2nd Amendment like alcohol and prohibition. We wanted people dry, so we passed the 18th Amendment, which we didn’t like, so we passed the 21st Amendment, which ended national prohibition. So take the Michael Moore challenge and proposed amendment or repeal of the 2nd Amendment.

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        You are not going to bait me into defending Roe. From when I first read it upon its publication, I thought it was one of the worst Supreme Court opinions I have ever read (and I have read a lot of them).

        As for Heller, some of the nation’s most prominent historians of that period of American history argue that it was not the intent of the authors of the 2nd amendment to give individuals the right to possess firearms. They summarize their argument as follows:

        “Once explored, this context establishes that the private keeping of firearms was manifestly not the right that the framers of the bill of rights guaranteed in 1789. Though Anglo-American political tradition did indeed value the idea of an armed populace, it never treated private ownership of firearms as an individual right. The right stated in the seminal English bill of rights of 1689 was vested not in individuals but in parliament, which remained free to determine “by law” which Protestant subjects could own which weapons and how they could be used. Nor did the first American constitutions and declarations of rights include clauses protecting private use of firearms. The right to keep and bear arms became an issue in 1787-1788 only because the Constitution proposed significant

        changes in the governance of the militia, an institution previously regulated solely by state law.”

        https://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/07-290_amicus_historians.pdf

        1. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
          f/k/a_tmtfairfax

          4th rate sophistry. The amicus brief does not mention the Assize of Arms (1181) or the Statute of Winchester (1285), which predated the 1689 Bill of Rights by approximately 500 years and 400 years respectively. Since the roots of the English right to keep and bear arms extend that deep, why would any reputable historian ignore 400-500 years of English law? And clearly, Maitland is the recognized expert historian on England’s constitutional history. Yet, the brief doesn’t mention Maitland, his lectures and his book.

          It’s been almost 50 years, but I studied English constitutional and legal history my senior year in college and still have the books. I doubt any of the amicus historians did or they purposely chose to ignore the historical facts. Academics are now known to ignore what is inconvenient.

          The clear conclusion is the brief is an intended fraud on the Court.

          1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
            Dick Hall-Sizemore

            Because, to my regret, I never took any courses in English history, much less constitutional and legal history, I cannot engage you on this one. I only know that the historians that are the authors of the brief are considered some of the best scholars of the consitutional period of American history.

          2. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
            f/k/a_tmtfairfax

            Dick, they are either ignorant, dishonest or both. It’s intellectually dishonest to ignore 400-500 years of history. But they are woke, so that trumps everything else.

          3. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
            Dick Hall-Sizemore

            As a follow-up, ancient English law may have allowed or encouraged the individual possession of weapons, but that apparently has not prevented the country from having some of the strictest gun control laws to be found. https://www.bbc.com/news/10220974

          4. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
            f/k/a_tmtfairfax

            So, amend or repeal the 2nd Amendment.

    3. Using that logic cars should not be allowed to go faster than 70mph [43K deaths last year]

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        Sounds OK to me. Would save a lot the country’s supply of fuel, as well.

    4. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fcf417ff882e315a19c5b5954e02f0c7a949bb157a839a139804a5a244977565.jpg

      It’s a start… but it’ll never survive Alito. So much for “State’s Rights”…

      1. So law enforcement officers [who miss the intended target 80% of the time] get more bullets?

      2. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
        f/k/a_tmtfairfax

        One could make the very same argument re privacy rights. Until we reach the conclusion that we need one set of laws and one way of applying them, the country will continue its splitting.

        Don’t like abortion, don’t get one. Don’t like guns, don’t get one. Don’t like marijuana, don’t smoke it.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Don’t like school children…

          1. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
            f/k/a_tmtfairfax

            Once again, you cannot answer anything on the merits.

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            You think you have merit? Don’t spend that merit bonus.

    5. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      People will just make their own ammo. Casing, primer, powder, bullet. All very simple to do

      1. vicnicholls Avatar
        vicnicholls

        Once you’ve invested in the dies, tools, etc. it is cheaper to reload.

    6. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Israel

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