Active School Security Measures

April 2, 2019
Adopt a layered approach to deter, detect and delay

In Part 1 Passive SCHOOL SECURITY, we discussed how the steps in the security continuum frequently performed multiple functions with respect to the PASSIVE /ACTIVE analogy.

For example, a camera’s presence on the building could be an example of passive security, but when the camera detects an active shooter and initiates a chain reaction that includes lockdowns and dispatching police, it is active security.

What follows are some interesting statistics and observations culled from a study  conducted by the NYPD (New York Police Department), and other trends we found while researching for these articles.

In 2018 there were 82 school shooting incidents reported in the United States. Because active shooter attacks are dynamic events and often conclude in the first 10-15 minutes of the incident, preparation is key to mitigating the impact of an attack.

  • 97 percent of the attackers were men or boys.
  • 97% of active shooter incidents are perpetrated by a single attacker
  • The vast majority of attackers fall into three age groups: 10 to 14; 15 to 19; and 20 to 24 years old.
  • These attackers have mental or emotional issues
  • 66% of active shooter incidents are perpetrated by attackers with professional, academic, or familial ties to their victim or victims.
  • 45% of active shooter incidents are resolved by law enforcement applying force.
  • 37% of active shooter incidents are perpetrated by attackers with more than one weapon.
  • Shooters often have a grievance (real or imagined) toward the school or staff
  • Most shootings are planned days and weeks in advance
  • Social media provides potential indicators and supports response.
  • Most shootings are not the result of a “mental snap”
  • Most attackers have objectives they want to achieve
  • Attackers almost always conduct pre-attack planning, which may including surveillance of school operations and facilities or gathering information about employees, students, teachers, and scheduled school events (like athletic events and assemblies)
  • The vast majority of active shooter incidents involve handguns.
  • 24% of attackers demonstrated tactical training and awareness.
  • 17% of attackers targeted law enforcement or military personnel.
  • At least 23% of attackers were inspired by previous active shooter situations or ideologies that espoused violent shootings as a means of support for their movement.
  • At least 15% of attackers indicated an imminent attack on any of their social media networks, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, and YouTube.
  • 42% of attackers carried more than one weapon.
  • 19% of attackers used body armor during their attack.
  • 6% of attacks led to a barricade situation,
  • In only 4% of cases did the attacker take hostages.
  • Active shooter attacks are dynamic events and often conclude in the first 10-15 minutes.

Attacks often follow a pattern of these steps:

  1. Target selection.
  2. Surveillance and information gathering.
  3. Test and evaluate security.
  4. Potential reconsideration and reconfirmation of the target and goals and objectives.
  5. Acquire supplies.
  6. Gain access and conduct attack.
  7. Attempt an escape.

Effective Security Steps

Data and profiles can be used to help formulate effective “deter, detect and delay” security steps at schools. It has been suggested that these three steps offer the best chance of averting a catastrophe.

Deterrence creates uncertainty in the mind of an attacker so he doubts his ability to succeed. Obvious security measures may cause a potential attacker to doubt the success of an attack.

Making it known that uniformed and plain-clothed police conducting routine patrols inside and outside the school may help deter attacks.

School administration and staff can be issued and trained in the use of defensive devices and concealed weapons.

Spreading the word that metal detectors are randomly deployed can be a deterrent.

Detection builds upon deterrence. Observant monitoring of building entrances helps detect anybody who is agitated, disturbed or out of place (a common attribute seen in attackers).

Reliable access controls on a building perimeter helps detect unauthorized entry.

Expanding the secure space outside a school helps enhance the aura of security and provides early detection of people acting suspiciously.

The presence of CCTV cameras in parking areas and public access points combined with random walking patrols around building exteriors also are effective deterrents.

An efficient and effective security program also will use information available within the school—reports, observations and similar data sources about students (and staff) who are at risk of aggressive behavior and violent acts.

A keenly aware and astute staff should recognize that a victim of bullying may become an active shooter in the future.

Delay involves the use of physical and virtual characteristics to harden the facility with a goal of frustrating or impeding an attacker in the planning and execution of an attack.

At Sandy Hook Elementary School, the attacker reportedly could not open a locked door, so he shot the lock to gain entry.

Keeping a would-be attacker out of a school, or delaying his attempt at entry, is important to interrupt the attack cycle as well as to enable students and staff to shelter in place (lockdown) or evacuate to a safe location.

Another delay tactic is to deny access to information that would assist in planning an attack. Sharing information about students, teachers, schools and activities needs to be balanced between the need to know for parents, staff and students and the security need to protect the facility and its occupants.

The concept of layered security based upon a security approach that requires an aggressor to employ different skills and tools to penetrate multiple layers of different types of security measures.

With an active shooter, if schools wait until the response step (typically when law enforcement responds to a 911 call), loss of life is likely. Often, a first responder is a few minutes away when seconds count.

Greater focus needs to be placed on the first three steps: deter, detect and delay; the goal is preventing the incident in the first place and eliminating the need for a response.

Below are some selected products that can help protect our schools and students.

AXIS Surveillance

Protecting a school with an efficient and reliable network based security system from Axis communications will contribute to:

• Ensure staff and student safety

• Deter violence and theft

• Minimize vandalism and costly repairs

• Easily investigate incidents and identify suspects

Most schools have limited security budgets. So getting the biggest return on their security investment is important. An integrated video surveillance, access control and audio solution from Axis gives schools the best possible protection, while letting you better allocate your resources and save on costs.

AXIS Camera Station S11 Recorder Series:

·        Out-of-the-box ready recording solutions

·        Optimized for Axis network products

·        Quick system setup and intuitive operation

·        Flexible storage options

·        Extensive support available

·        AXIS Camera Station licenses included

These easy-to-install solutions include AXIS Camera Station licenses for mid-sized installations, so you have everything you need to help ensure every customer installation is trouble-free. The integrated recording toolbox also gives easy access to a complete end-to-end solution with total control over the entire surveillance system.

AXIS Camera Station Integrator Suite also provides all the tools required from system design to installation and verification to ensure of an effective and secure solution.

Locksmith Ledger asked Mitch Mershon, Sales Program Manager, Medium Business, at Axis Communications, Inc. how AXIS products contribute to enhanced school security

The AXIS Camera Station S11 Recorder Series is comprised of the AXIS S1148 and AXIS S1132 servers.

The series includes security grade hard drives, designed for heavy use and relies on an Operating System on a solid state drive for overall better performance and less chance of hard drive failure. It comes with RAID configuration, which cuts down on setup time for the reseller and provides back up for the rare case where a hard drive fails. The series also comes with greater storage flexibility allowing end users to fully customize a storage system.

Axis provides on-site, next business day warranty and support for their solutions, meaning that in the unlikely event that there is a problem with the solution the end user will be back up and running the next day. End users also have the benefit of Axis’ technical support team for any issue that may come up.

Schools using the S11 Series benefit most from the peace of mind these solutions grant them. Security is a significant investment, so the worst thing that can happen is that that investment fails, especially if there is an incident. The S11 Series provides redundancy in storage and power, top of the line hardware that is designed to handle the intense requirements of video surveillance, and an amazing support and warranty program in the rare event that something fails.  Axis’ servers are designed to handle the stress of long-term surveillance, so schools can feel confident that their security systems will be ready in the event of an emergency.


The IN100 lock with Aperio® Technology from ASSA ABLOY Group brands Corbin Russwin and SARGENT offers an easy way to upgrade, expand, and enhance your access control system. Aperio offers the same real-time communication as traditional access control without the inconvenience of wiring the door. Aperio technology is a global wireless platform that utilizes local wireless communication between the lock and a communications hub to connect to an online electronic access control system.

It offers facilities an easy and affordable way to expand their existing access control systems and secure additional openings.


·        Quick, easy wireless deployment that eliminates the cost and inconvenience of complex wireless site surveys

·        Integrated reader, monitoring and short range wireless radio simplifies installation and reduces material costs

·        Real-time door status monitoring with REX, DPS, tamper and low battery signals

·        Lockdown capability: Remote or centralized lock/unlock in less than 10 seconds and local lockdown using a privacy button on the secure side of the lock

·        Support for passage mode scheduling offers convenience for offices, conference rooms and other common areas

·        Available in multiple lock and exit device configurations, offering the flexibility to support a variety of openings

·        Features multiCLASS SE® technology from HID Global®, offering easy migration to higher security credentials and HID Mobile Access® powered by Seos®

·        High security standardized communications ensures data security between lock and hub


Cansec’s MAP1 access control panel supports up to 4 hard wired readers or 8 ASSA ABLOY Aperio wireless locks.

It can be provisioned for three different system solutions;

·        Cloud Lock (SaaS),

·        First Access (client/server) or

·        Webster (embedded network appliance).

Reader capacities are also provisionable so you only pay for the reader capacity you need. Capacity can be field upgraded by simply buying an “upgrade” provisioning code . Added readers are automatically activated- no additional controller hardware required. If you start with one system solution and circumstances change, you can switch to another system solution without having to change the field hardware.

The MAP1 Modular Access Panel is totally self-contained and puts support for 4 doors and 100,000 users in the palm of your hand. It utilizes a powerful quad core processor, is network ready and contains 27 status LEDs, making it simple to commission and maintain.

There are many benefits to using the same MAP1 building block for Cloud Lock, First Access or Webster. One of the biggest is that users can easily move between solutions as their needs change. If you start with a small Webster system and outgrow it, you can easily migrate to Cloud Lock or First access. If you no longer require the capacity or functionality of a Cloud lock or First Access solution, you can easily downgrade to Webster.


100,000 users -1024 readers

Subscription based

No software to install

Managed via browser from anywhere


100,000 users -1024 readers

Windows based

Up to 10 First Access clients

Automatic panel discovery


Embedded Web Server

5,000 users - 4 readers

No software to install

Built-in web server

Managed via browser

Schlage L & CO Series

Schlage provides protection at critical moments while living up to the day-to-day needs of a facility. The Schlage L-Series extra heavy-duty mortise locks with 180° visual indicators are built to withstand the rigors of daily use.

The 180-degree visibility indicator for the Schlage® L-Series mortise lock provides “at-a-glance” verification of the status of the door, making it ideally suited for classroom security applications.

Staff and students can quickly assess if the door is locked or unlocked from a safe distance inside of the classroom. The indicator saves time and alleviates confusion in the event of an emergency.

The L Series indicator features:

  • 2 x 1⁄2; display for easy viewing at a distance
  • 180° windows for visibility at any angle
  • High-mount placement for quick assessment during emergency lockdown
  • High contrast colors (white/red, black/white) for ease of reading
  • Choice of four text and/or symbol messages
  • Available for over 30 functions, for inside or outside of door

Schlage® CO Classroom locks are electronic, battery-powered standalone locks capable of manual or computer programming with user rights stored on the lock. Credential reader options can include keypad, magnetic swipe, proximity or combinations of these. Its strength as a lockdown solution comes from a teacher-controlled fob worn on a lanyard around the neck. With this simple push button fob, a teacher has the ability to immediately lockdown up to 10 doors within a range of up to 75 feet of the classroom interior. In lockdown/panic mode, its visual indicator lights up red to clearly show the locked status from anywhere in the room. This provides a code compliant solution that always enables free egress even in lockdown mode.

As a security device, the CO- 220 can only be overridden by administrative or safety official credentials when locked down. However, from the inside of the room, egress is always possible so that proper fire codes are upheld and student-on-student violence isn’t promoted through entrapment.

The Handheld Device (HHD), used in conjunction with access control software, allows you to easily add or delete users, set auto lock and unlock schedules, and retrieve audits.

dormakaba E-Plex E7900

With a streamlined design, this heavy duty electronic lockset is built for performance. The most versatile E-Plex model to date, the E-Plex 7900 functions in standalone or wireless modes for cylindrical mortise and exit trim applications.

With variable models each designed to function with a designated list of credential types, E-Plex 7900 can be trusted in many access control environment, including Proximity (125kHz), MiFare and iCLASS Legacy.

Features include

·        Integrated wireless access control

·        Integrated RFID reader only lock - not push buttons

·        Streamlined design

·        More secure with door monitoring and sensing capabilities


The AlphaTouch™ system from Alpha Communicationsis an IP based smart video-intercom system that allows faculty and staff to see and speak to visitors, and release the door, on their smartphone, using their AlphaTouch™ app.

At its core, the AlphaTouch™ system features one or more 7.0” touchscreen door entry stations. The system provides audio and visual calls without the need for pricey video-intercom monitors and their related wiring, labor and power supply requirements.

The Alpha Communications® AT101AS AlphaTouch™ series hands free type IP color door entry stations provide the most advanced video-intercom system available, for applications requiring a single call pushbutton, with any number of monitors, door stations, and remote cameras. The AT700AS is a SIP-enabled device for multi-functional communications.

Ed note: Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol used for initiating, maintaining, modifying and terminating real-time sessions that involve video, voice, messaging and other communications applications and services between two or more endpoints on IP networks.

With its advanced design and TCP/IP protocol, the AT101AS does not require any servers, power supplies, switchers, boosters, video distributors, and requires  simply a LAN connection and the PoE switch(es).

All AT101AS stations feature electronic call signaling, enhanced echo-cancellation duplex type hands-free voice with door release capability and other functions based on the unit’s firmware.

The Alpha Communications® AT700DM AlphaTouch™ series “hands free” type  touchscreen IP color monitors provides the most advanced video-intercom system available, for any size building, with any number of monitors, door stations, and remote cameras. The AT700DM is a SIP-enabled indoor (concierge) master for multi-functional communications. At the core of the AT700DM is a large capacitive touchscreen and intuitive Android v5.1 operating system.

All AT700DM masters feature a crystal clear 7.0 inch color TFT LCD capacitive touchscreen monitor (measured diagonally), electronic call signaling, enhanced echo-cancellation duplex type hands-free voice with speakerphone, door release capability and other functions based on the unit’s firmware. The AT700DM’s multi-channel capability virtually eliminates busy signals on the system.

Smart phone apps for AlphaTouch™ are available for the Android and/or iOS type phones and tablets,and these apps will be updated in the future with more features and capabilities.

Alpha Communication’s Mark S. Goldberg explains the values of the Alpha Touch to School Security:

“For School security applications, the AlphaTouch™ door stations can be used at any school entrance door. As a call is placed at each door, the door station snaps a photo of the visitor and stores the date/time/image on our cloud, should they need to be referred to in the future.

The AlphaTouch™ door stations currently can call to school staff by telephone or on their smart phones (with live video and door release), but within the next couple of months we will be adding video-intercom monitors and concierge/staff stations as well, for staff to call each other and answer door calls.

 The AlphaTouch™ door stations have a built in RFID reader so staff can access the building entrances using prox tags. Our “virtual key” feature allows entry to temporary visitors, such as contractors, parents, etc.

A lot of times when school has ended for the day and there may be just janitorial staff around the building(s), when a visitors comes to the door and calls to the office, there is no one there to answer. With AlphaTouch™ the call can be received by the janitorial staff on their smart phone apps.

The AlphaTouch™ door station allows for up to 6 “site specific” functions buttons to allow visitor calls to an Emergency phone, or after-hours phone, for example, or even a 911 call, if needed. These 6 function buttons are totally programmable by the installer/user.

Securitech LEXI 

It is not uncommon, generally speaking based on my own real world experiences that facilities have several exit devices from other manufacturers installed over time. Securitech understands the need for perimeter security and the desire to integrate access control to exit devices.

Securitech's QID ™ has a new look for 2019 featuring an enhanced visual indicator and sleek, modern sloped trim. Designed for classroom doors locked by key from the exterior, QID meets Department of Homeland Security’s #1 recommendation to quickly lockdown classroom doors from inside without the use of a key. Forget scrambling for keys/fobs/barricade devices! Functioning as an everyday classroom lock, QID features a red button that projects a 1” stainless-steel emergency deadbolt, going above and beyond the standard latch used to secure classrooms. Providing single-motion egress and key access, QID affords occupants time to focus on sheltering-in-place or evacuating.

Having different manufacturers’ exit devices installed throughout can complicate the goal for access control; most access control systems require a uniform brand, which leads to additional cost and labor. The LEXI Lockdown, an ala carte system, allows facilities to integrate access control and retrofit the existing exit devices.

Securitech’s LEXI™ Lockdown brings this life-saving functionality to existing exit devices. LEXI™ Lockdown offers enhanced safety and security to all exit device doors, including larger multi-door spaces like lecture halls. The exit devices always provide single motion functionality.

The LEXI™ Lockdown does not interfere with regular operation. In an emergency situation, anyone in the room can press the red LEXI™ Lockdown button which instantly locks the exit device’s exterior lever handle. In larger rooms, the electric LEXI™ Lockdown system would include wall mounted lockdown stations which would instantly lock all of the rooms’ exit device exterior levers. Pendants and remote release stations are also available for this system.

LEXI Lockdown systems function as everyday locks, but exit devices can be secured in the event of an emergency.

Instead of running to each exit device and locking the doors, occupants would secure multi-door spaces by pressing a fob, a button under the desk, and/or by pressing the emergency lockdown pushbutton. Again, it’s an ala carte system and customizable to the needs of the end-user.

LEXI Lockdown is designed for auditorium, lecture hall or large classroom use where there are multiple doors and the door or doors are typically unlocked for extended periods to provide free entry into the room during lectures or classes.

Depressing the red button in the blue lockdown station instantly locks all the doors on the system.

LEXI Lockdown has absolutely no impact on exiting. Free exiting is maintained at all times.

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.