Although statistically they are rare, school shootings and mass casualty attacks have an enormous impact on our communities. This impact often leads to immense pressure on school administrators and law enforcement officials to “do something” quickly to protect our children in school. Hasty and reactive decision-making often results in implementation of new policies and adoption of new equipment and technology based on scant—if any—evidence of their effectiveness.
Understanding this challenge, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) asked its School Safety Working Group to identify from a law enforcement perspective the 10 most essential actions schools, school districts, and law enforcement agencies can take to prevent mass casualty attacks in our nation’s schools and, when prevention is not enough, to respond rapidly and effectively to end the threat as quickly as possible to save lives. While the cost associated with some of these strategies may be significant, for others it is relatively modest.
It should be noted that critical actions described in this document are applicable not only to school shootings but also to all areas of school safety, including weather disasters and traumatic events such as student suicide.