UCLA shoot­ing re­news con­cerns on class­room locks

Business Mirror - - THE WORLD - AP

LOS ANGELES— When an ac­tive shooter alert spread across the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Los Angeles ( UCLA) cam­pus on Wed­nes­day, some stu­dents found them­selves in a fright­en­ing predica­ment: They were told to go into lock­down but couldn’t lock their class­room doors.

Im­ages of stu­dents pil­ing ta­bles, chairs and prin­ters against doors on so­cial me­dia sparked alarm and raised ques­tions—yet, it was hardly the first time stu­dents at a univer­sity or school were un­able to lock their doors dur­ing a shoot­ing.

The same is­sue arose dur­ing other re­cent deadly at­tacks, in­clud­ing one at Vir­ginia Tech in 2007, where stu­dents bar­ri­caded them­selves inside rooms, and at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary shoot­ing in 2012, where teach­ers did the same. Some schools have in­stalled locks in re­cent years fol­low­ing at­tacks, but ex­perts say wider adop­tion has been hin­dered by the cost to retro­fit doors and lo­cal fire codes that re­quire doors to open in one mo­tion dur­ing emer­gen­cies.

Yet, once an ac­tive shooter is in a build­ing, most se­cu­rity ex­perts agree get­ting into a locked room is one of the most ef­fec­tive de­ter­rents against get­ting in­jured or shot.

“How many deaths would it have taken for us to ad­dress this is­sue more se­ri­ously?” said Je­sus Vil­la­her­mosa, pres­i­dent of Cri­sis Re­al­ity Train­ing, not­ing that an as­sailant, know­ing po­lice are on the way, usu­ally won’t bother try­ing to ac­cess a locked room.

The for­mer deputy sher­iff said UCLA was for­tu­nate in that shooter Mainak Sarkar tar­geted pro­fes­sor Wil­liam Klug and then com­mit­ted sui­cide. If he’d gone on a ram­page, he might have eas­ily found stu­dents un­able to de­fend them­selves.

The univer­sity said on Friday it was “as­sess­ing safety mea­sures” across the cam­pus and will make ap­pro­pri­ate changes. It’s un­known ex­actly how many school and univer­sity class­rooms don’t have doors that can lock from the inside. Vil­la­her­mosa said the is­sue is more preva­lent on col­lege cam­puses than K-12 schools.

There are a va­ri­ety of reasons why a school may not have class­room locks. Older build­ings con­structed at a time when class­rooms typ­i­cally con­tained just desks and a chalk­board— and not the ex­pen­sive tech­nol­ogy many have to­day— fre­quently did not in­clude them.

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