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Security Experts Say Schools, Businesses Need Policies To Respond To Threats

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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

PAXTON, Mass. (AP) _ With the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn., still fresh in their minds, FBI, state police and security experts offered advice Thursday to school administrators and private employers saying they will have to do more than a “lockdown” policy to prepare for and respond to an armed intruder.

The speakers acknowledged that no two mass shootings are the same and said there is no simple way to stop an armed gunman. But they agreed that schools and workplaces have to offer more options than just traditional lockdown policies that call for locking doors and hiding.

Randy Spivey, chief executive of The Center for Personal Protection and Safety, said he has received dozens of requests for training from elementary, middle and high schools since 20 children and six educators were killed Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.

“Parents are asking not only what can I do to help my children stay safe in school, but also if I take them to a shopping mall,” said Spivey, whose Spokane, Wash., center has provided training for 1,600 universities around the country.

The company offers a training program called, “When Lockdown’s Not Enough” for teachers of kindergarten through sixth grade, and for students and teachers in seventh grade through high school.

Spivey said lockdown policies adopted years ago by schools and private companies serve a useful purpose in some situations, but not when students, teachers or workers come face to face with an armed gunman.

“You’d better have some other options than just lockdown,” he said.

More than 300 Massachusetts school administrators, police, and employees of private companies attended the workshop, held at Anna Maria College and sponsored by the Boston chapter of the FBI Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association, a community-based organization that promotes the work of the FBI.

Spivey and other speakers said schools need to consider training students and teachers to react more aggressively if the gunman reaches their classroom. Options include running out of the building, swarming the shooter to tackle him, or using available items such as fire extinguishers to incapacitate the shooter.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Gary Coffey described ways to identify signs that someone is planning a school shooting. Coffey said that while a mass shooter has no fixed profile, many have grievances against someone at the school and noticeable changes in behavior before a shooting. In about 26 percent of school shootings, including Newtown, the gunman has already killed one of his parents or a guardian, he said.

Coffey said that in about 75 percent of school shootings, the shooter told someone beforehand about his interest in mounting an attack on the school. Not all mass shootings can be prevented, he said, but society can do better at identifying possible indicators that someone is planning violence.

“It’s being vigilant. It’s parents, it’s schools, it’s police, it’s all of us,” he said.
Coffey said law enforcement also can get better at identifying possible indicators that a shooter is planning an assault.

“From where I stand, there is no quick fix for this,” Coffey said.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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