Is this the time for a relook at institutional security? To people who sound the alarm about American complacency, the UCLA shooting is just another example of institutions betting that a shooting incident or terrorist event won’t happen on their campus. Is this the time for a relook at institutional security?
Some states have laws that require doors to open outward in many businesses and institutions. A great idea for fire evacuation and ease of exiting a room. However, there are now other aspects to consider. Sometimes a door has to be locked firmly where someone can’t enter the room. Jamming something like a screwdriver or chair between the handle and the doorframe is a good expedient for a short time, but if a shooter is determined, that will fail soon.
If the shooter at UCLA had decided to take a few students with him, instead of a professor, it would have been more of a disaster than it was. While some students managed to jury-rig their doors, a dedicated shooter might have managed to defeat those expedients.
It is interesting to note that administrative officials often put budgets ahead of security items based upon the, “It probably won’t happen here” mentality. Then, after something does happen, the thought process becomes, “Lightning doesn’t strike twice” and improvements never happen.
There have been discussions about college security since 2007 and Virginia Tech. Some universities recognized their responsibilities and upgraded their buildings, but others have delayed because of fear of criminals locking doors and perpetrating misdeeds without fear of interruption.
After 9/11, most federal and state facilities were required to have security vulnerability assessments done on their buildings and institutions. In many case, the findings were remarkable at the number of vulnerabilities.
That generated a great deal of exterior and interior security improvements. Interior foot traffic was rerouted, elevators were rewired, doors and locks were improved and plans and policies were updated.
Just like preparation for fire, earthquakes and other natural disasters, it is time for those institutions who are thinking “It probably won’t happen here”, to have a good vulnerability assessment done on their physical plants. Why not improve the security and the safety of the student body?
How about a good old-fashioned renovation with long, dead bolts and a reinforced 12-inch striker plate? Sure, that will be expensive, but consider the potential life-saving.
In my opinion, safety of people is more important than anything else.