Despite the fact that active shooter incidents are rare, in far too many cases, cameras are both sold to and purchased by schools with the express purpose of addressing the active shooter threat. Unfortunately, simply having a video surveillance system can promote a false sense of security.
For video to be effective in an active shooter incident, the following need to be in place in addition to cameras.
- Monitoring: First, the system must be monitored during school hours. This will provide for pre-incident detection and notification. Without monitoring, the system will simply provide a graphic post-incident record.
- Appropriate Response: Once the system is monitored, will there be a viable response capability? When you receive notification of a potential threat, you need to have a response script based on the resources you have: call 911, send an SRO, secure the perimeter, lockdown classrooms, etc. To perform this type of response to a potential threat effectively, a campus will need to have good communication capability and training.
- Real-time Streaming to Police: In addition, the ability to provide an offsite real-time feed of the video to responding law enforcement during an incident can provide important information on a situation as it is occurring. This will certainly be the case in a more protracted incident. All of this will be critical in making effective use of your video surveillance system in an active shooter incident.
Brian Armes and Guy Bliesner are co-founders of Educators Eyes. Armes previously was a teacher and school principal, while Bliesner was previously an educator and health, safety and security coordinator for a school district in Idaho.