What’s be­ing done to stop shoot­ings?

10 months after the Park­land school mas­sacre, Broward County stu­dents still ex­posed to po­ten­tial dan­ger

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Brit­tany Wall­man, Scott Travis and Me­gan O’Matz

Once he de­cided to shoot up a school, there wasn’t much to stop Niko­las Cruz.

His threats were ig­nored, the cam­pus was wide open, the school doors were un­locked and stu­dents had nowhere to hide.

What has changed? Though 10 months have passed since the mass shoot­ing at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Broward County stu­dents are still ex­posed to po­ten­tial dan­ger. At least a quar­ter of cam­puses don’t have sin­gle-en­try points to con­trol in­trud­ers. Safe spa­ces to pro­tect chil­dren in class­rooms still haven’t been iden­ti­fied. There’s no pol­icy out­lin­ing how to re­spond to an ac­tive shooter.

Even seem­ingly sim­ple things — like mak­ing sure each class­room has a place where stu­dents can hide from bul­lets — have not been done.

The dis­trict points to some ma­jor se­cu­rity en­hance­ments, in­clud­ing $6.2 mil­lion in new

se­cu­rity cam­eras, $4.5 mil­lion for por­ta­ble ra­dios and $17 mil­lion for up­grades to in­ter­com sys­tems.

But some projects that are un­der­way — like mak­ing sure an in­truder can’t walk into an un­locked school and shoot peo­ple — are al­ready be­hind sched­ule.

Here’s a look at crit­i­cal fail­ures that led to the mur­ders of 17 staff and stu­dents, and the sta­tus of reme­dies to keep such a tragedy from hap­pen­ing again.

Breach­ing the cam­pus

Niko­las Cruz wasn’t wel­come at the high school. He was known by for­mer class­mates and even some ad­min­is­tra­tors as a po­ten­tial school shooter. And still he walked right onto cam­pus.

The in­tru­sion led to calls for locked gates, locked doors, manda­tory ID cards, see-through back­packs and metal de­tec­tors. Some of that is mov­ing for­ward for all Broward schools. Some, like clear back­packs and metal de­tec­tors, were nixed early on.

The Stone­man Dou­glas cam­pus has a sin­gle-pointof-en­try sys­tem, which re­quires vis­i­tors to go through the front of­fice to get on cam­pus. Locked gates block peo­ple from en­ter­ing else­where. That sys­tem failed, though, be­cause the gates were left open.

Al­though there have been pe­ri­odic com­plaints of gates at Stone­man Dou­glas still re­main­ing open at times, they were all se­cure when a South Florida Sun Sen­tinel re­porter ar­rived on a re­cent school day. Only one gate lead­ing to the front of­fice was open, and vis­i­tors had to first check in with a se­cu­rity mon­i­tor on a golf cart.

But more than a quar­ter of Broward County’s 238 pub­lic schools still aren’t ca­pa­ble of fun­nel­ing guests through one en­try point. On some cam­puses, a stranger could roam and might be able to walk into a build­ing when a door opens.

Coral Springs High has been wait­ing since the 1990s for the dis­trict to make good on its prom­ise of a closed cam­pus. Even after a for­mer stu­dent walked onto school grounds with a loaded gun in Oc­to­ber 2016, the fence wasn’t in­stalled.

These is­sues were sup­posed to be fixed as part of an $800 mil­lion bond ref­er­en­dum passed by Broward County vot­ers in 2014. After the Stone­man Dou­glas shoot­ing, Su­per­in­ten­dent Robert Run­cie said he would ex­pe­dite the sin­gle­point-of-en­try retrofits, and all cam­puses would be se­cure by early 2019.

That’s not go­ing to hap­pen, dis­trict of­fi­cials now say. Most are ex­pected to be com­pleted by March, but about two dozen will be de­layed un­til later in the year or 2020, con­struc­tion of­fi­cials told the school board on Dec. 11.

Hard Cor­ners

Some chil­dren died at Stone­man Dou­glas be­cause they had nowhere to hide.

The dis­trict had not man­dated safe ar­eas known as “hard cor­ners” — spots that a gun­man shoot­ing through a door­way would not see. As a re­sult, those pos­si­ble safety zones were not marked or were blocked by desks, book­cases or other ob­sta­cles.

The school dis­trict has yet to fix the prob­lem, which baf­fles many.

“Is there any rea­son why to­mor­row there’s not a hard cor­ner in ev­ery class­room in ev­ery school in the dis­trict?” asked James Harpring, un­der­sh­er­iff for the In­dian River Sher­iff’s Of­fice and a mem­ber of the Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas Pub­lic Safety Com­mis­sion. “A hard cor­ner is im­me­di­ate, doesn’t cost any­thing, and is an im­me­di­ate life­sav­ing ac­tion that can take place.”

Said Andy Pol­lack, whose 18-year-old daugh­ter, Meadow, was killed in the shoot­ing: “They can’t fig­ure out how to put a piece of tape across the cor­ner of the room? It’s ridicu­lous.”

Run­cie said he does not want to wait un­til they have a “per­fect” pol­icy and will be­gin im­ple­ment­ing the change after the win­ter break and make ad­just­ments Coral Springs po­lice are on duty at Coral Springs High School. The school has waited for years for sin­gle point of en­try, which lim­its ac­cess to the front of­fice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.