There’s no one fix for school shootings. Anyone with half a brain will tell you that, regardless of where they stand on the gun issue. There will always be evil people who will try and use schools as the prime location for their murder sprees. The only way to prevent that is to abolish schools, and since that’s not remotely a viable idea, we have to look elsewhere.
In Illinois, some private schools have taken to placing alarms in schools that will notify the police if pulled.
Over 20 Illinois private schools have installed emergency alarms that notify police in the event of an active shooter, according to the Chicago Tribune. The blue boxes were installed over the summer as parents and administrators worry about the mass murders that took place in Parkland and Santa Fe last year.
“[Parents] really, sadly, are aware of this possibility,” said Rachel Gemo, head of St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Chicago’s North Side. “They are not immune to what they hear on TV.”
The system was developed by a company called BluePoint Alert Solutions and works like the fire alarm systems students are already familiar with. The light blue box is stamped with the word “Police” and includes a pull-down handle to notify authorities in case of an emergency.
Even though most teachers, administrators, and students have cell phones, BluePoint says their system saves precious seconds that might be wasted fumbling with a phone. In addition, the BluePoint system includes building alerts that notify occupants of danger.
I don’t disagree here. After all, we still have fire alarms despite the prevalence of cell phones. During high-stress events, fine motor skills degrade, and dialing a phone is a fine motor skill.
Yanking a handle down on an alarm, however, is a gross motor skill. Anyone with hands can accomplish that during a high-stress event.
But if they think this is sufficient, they’re deluding themselves, seriously deluding themselves.
It’s like the old saying, when seconds count, the police are just minutes away.
This isn’t a slam on law enforcement, either. The police would love to be there and prevent these atrocities, but they can’t be everywhere. The odds of them being in the exact spot at the right time are so slim as to be nonexistent. They have to respond to the aftermath.
And that’s even with these alarms.
Instead, these alarms need to be part of a more comprehensive approach to school security. Speeding up response times in addition to hardening the schools will make a significant difference in keeping students safe from these horrific events. Arming teachers would be far, far better, but I’m not sure that’s even a remote possibility in Illinois, even for private schools.
My sincere hope, though, is that these schools don’t look at this and think, “Good enough.” While I support law enforcement and know they’ll do all that they can to protect the children, they’re not the solution here. They may want to be, but realistically, there has got to be so much more done.
But it is a start.