Campus Security Measures Introduced in Year Following Parkland Shooting
Several changes have been made in Florida following the mass shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
- By Sydny Shepard
- February 14, 2019
Today, February 14, 2019, marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic events in Parkland, Fla. that lead to the deaths of 14 high school students and three teachers on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. A lot has happened and many changes have been made in the state of Florida following the incident.
While many schools are safer, with more security guards and more access control, there is still a lot of work to be done to harden buildings and prepare for threats. Here's what as been done, or is still in the works, to create a more secure campus in the year since the Parkland shooting, as reported by the Sun-Sentinel.
Every public school in Florida must now employ at least one armed security guard to protect students under the new MSD Act. The guards were in place for the start of the school year last August.
Classroom Hiding Places
Broward School District vowed to have safe hiding places in classrooms marked as "Hard Corners" by the end of February. The initiative came about after the state commission advised schools that marking these "safer spaces," where students could hide from a shooter, is a safe, easy, and inexpensive exercise. Other districts in Florida are working on this, but getting it done has been difficult, as teachers and administration complain that they can't fit an entire classroom of students into one corner, or some classrooms with multiple doors and windows do not have a space to deem "safe."
Funding for Security
This is a change that has impacted Broward county, the state of Florida and the entire country. This year, the Department of Justice awarded $70 million to schools to invest in safety and security through the STOP School Violence Act. In Broward, voters approved a bond issue to help pay for school police officers and security staff, among other things. The district will start collecting the money in July.
The Broward School District intends to add fencing, classroom door locks, campus gates and a single point of entry system to make it more difficult for a shooter to enter a school. As of mid-January, 43 of the 238 schools were still working to restrict access, according to the district. All school campus gates must remain locked at all times. Bathroom as to be kept unlocked, so students can hide if a shooter emerges.
The school district is still working to finalize the new formal policy about Code Red school lockdowns during an active shooter emergency. This new policy would make it clear that any employee can create the alert. The schools do not, as of yet, have an intercom system or communication system that would allow all students and teachers to hear if a Code Red had been triggered.
All surveillance cameras were upgraded to a uniform system that can now be viewed remotely. Broward Sheriff's Office deputies are now able to remotely view live feeds from the cameras, during public safety emergencies, the school board decided on Jan. 15.
Reporting threatening behavior was made easier following the Parkland shooting. The state app, FortifyFL and the Broward app SaferWatch allow students or others to report threats using their smartphones. The tips can be submitted anonymously.
The Promise Program
The state MSD Act tightened up student discipline, reversing a trend Broward had embraced that gave troubled students numerous second chances. Now, law enforcement gets involved once a student commits a second misdemeanor offense.
At Majory Stoneman Douglas High where the shooting occurred, many security changes have been made including fencing, gates, door locks, extra personnel an more than 100 additional surveillance cameras were added. An employee is assigned to monitor surveillance cameras at all times and hard corners were marked in many, but not all, of the classrooms.
Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.