Social Networks We Use

Categories

CT Tech Junkie Feed

Connecticut Consumers to Begin Receiving E-Book Settlement Refunds
Mar 25, 2014 4:09 pm
Connecticut residents will start receiving refund checks or credits this week for e-books purchased between April 1,...more »
Like New Jersey, Direct Retail Sales of Tesla Automobiles Not Allowed in Connecticut
Mar 19, 2014 12:24 pm
The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection is co-sponsoring a contest for the auto dealership...more »

Our Partners

˜

OP-ED | Safe or Safe Enough? School Security After Newtown

by Heath W. Fahle | Dec 20, 2013 10:04am
(2) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Opinion, Public Safety, Newtown

School shootings take on a more chilling significance here in Connecticut after last year’s tragedy at Sandy Hook. The incidents also raise questions that haunt us in the wake of Newtown: What could have been done to prevent the shooting? What can we do to prevent future violence? Have we done enough?

Angry about losing his position on the debate team, a young man showed up at Arapahoe High School in Colorado last week carrying a grudge and a pump-action shotgun. His target was reported to have been the school’s librarian and debate coach, but she slipped away before being found. The shooter grievously wounded a fellow classmate before turning the gun on himself.

School shootings take on a more chilling significance here in Connecticut after last year’s tragedy at Sandy Hook. The incidents also raise questions that haunt us in the wake of Newtown: What could have been done to prevent the shooting? What can we do to prevent future violence? Have we done enough?

In the context of school security improvements, the questions remain difficult to answer.

Security measures are often dogged by questions about effectiveness. The principle aim of school security improvements, deterrence, can be defined the same way Hebrews 11:1 defines faith: “. . . the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is difficult to measure success when deterrence works but its failures are painfully apparent.

The state has invested $21 million in 604 schools statewide for security improvements such as security cameras, entry management systems, and other infrastructure. In addition to the state supplemental funds, many local governments step up security measures on their own with School Resource Officers (some armed), staff training, planning, and an array of other measures.

Many of these have a plain deterrent effect. Measures like perimeter fencing, automatic locking doors, and bulletproof glass make it more difficult for a potential shooter to gain entry to a school. The arrival of security officers is usually the beginning of the end for school shooters who, like at Arapahoe High, tend to take their own lives when confronted by authorities. Their presence in advance of an incident surely provides some deterrence.

But deterrence is fleeting. The Sandy Hook shooter bypassed the locked door and the buzzer entry system by shooting his way into the building. All the security cameras and fences in the world were of little use once he was inside Sandy Hook Elementary. Some use this as evidence to argue that deterrence has little effect on school shooters because it is impossible to reason with a madman.

The counterargument is that the shooter in Newtown had mental health issues but he still exhibited the ability to think strategically, arriving at the school with multiple weapons, laden with ammunition, and prepared to perpetrate tragedy. More robust security measures may have made it more difficult for him to commit the crime.

Herein is the most difficult part of the conversation about school security. It is plagued with uncertainty. More robust security measures may have made it more difficult, but it is impossible to argue that they would have prevented the act. As a result, the debate must focus not on the absolute question about school safety but rather the relative one: Are schools safe enough? In the wake of Sandy Hook, the answer to that question will always be no.

Heath W. Fahle is the Policy Director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy and a former Executive Director of the Connecticut Republican Party. Contact Heath about this article by visiting www.heathwfahle.com

Tags: , , , , ,

Share this story with others.

Share | |

(2) Comments

posted by: Barth Keck | December 21, 2013  10:39am

A timely and important discussion. Mr. Fahle is correct to conclude that there is no such thing as absolute school safety. But the grief and horror of school shootings ultimately cause people to ignore more pressing issues than the shootings themselves—issues like teen suicide. This previous piece from CTTechJunkie makes the point quite well.

posted by: Stingy Blue | December 23, 2013  11:54am

This article is a nice way for Mr. Fahle to divert attention from the issue that Donors Capital Fund would prefer not to consider: comprehensive gun control.  I, for one, would prefer that my children attend a school that doesn’t resemble army barracks - and comprehensive gun control (a la every other civilized nation) is an eminently reasonable price.