Expert, architect discuss school security in wake of deadly Texas shooting

The deadly shooting at a Texas elementary school had led many to ask about the role security plays when it comes to building safety and keeping students protect
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 1:16 PM EDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 4:59 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The deadly shooting at a Texas elementary school has led many to ask about the role security plays when it comes to building safety and keeping students protected.

“Having these type of resources available certainly can’t necessarily prevent all types of shootings of this nature, but certainly can minimize it,” said Gary Lefort, a retired associate professor at AIC and retired U.S. military officer.

The second deadliest school shooting in the past decade played out Tuesday in Texas. A yet another senseless act of violence now has many questioning the safety of school buildings and what security measures should be put in place. Lefort told Western Mass News there needs to be a plan put in place on a national and state level to harden schools.

“By hardening our schools, I mean having a single, secure access point to the schools, having training programs in the schools, not only at the high school level, but at the elementary level as well because that is the real Achilles’ heel,” Lefort explained.

Lefort supports the idea of putting resources officers in schools and finding a way to put security on a room-by-room basis.

“Besides having armed police officers or retired military present within the school, there is also the question about what about the possibility of arming teachers and staff and school staff…Of course, you are assuming that they will be provided the required training to be certified to use that,” Lefort added.

The city of Easthampton is one local district putting security into play when designing their new kindergarten through grade eight school following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Western Mass News spoke with one of the architects on the forefront of the design process.

“What we used as an overall strategy in Easthampton is something called crime prevention through environmental design. Basically, what we do is incorporate a lot of layers to the building design from the site all the way to the classrooms,” said Bert Gardner, principal architect with Caolo and Bieniek.

Some added safety precautions put in place at the Easthampton facility include added duress buttons that would lock off certain corridors in case of emergency, as well as multiple layers of buffers to access inside and outside the building and shatterproof glass on the first floor.

“Every community has its own threshold in what they want and part of the balance and design of school of course as you do not want it to feel like a prison for the students coming, so you really do have to balance that, but I think that the more and more we see of this, the more districts will want to focus on the safety aspect,” Gardner added.