HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — After police say a gunman took the lives of at least 19 children and two adults in an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, school safety experts in the Midstate are weighing in.
It’s unclear what safety measures were in place in Texas, but in Pennsylvania, experts say over the last several years, safety and security has been a top priority.
“Pennsylvania schools are much more prepared than a lot of areas,” said John Sancenito, president of INA Inc.
Sancenito, a school security expert, says that’s because of legislation passed in Pennsylvania years ago.
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“They mandated that all schools have a security assessment performed by a qualified professional,” Sancenito said. “They also gave millions of dollars to schools in the form of grants. So each of the schools submitted grants for security upgrades.”
Sancenito says training is as important as physical security measures.
“You need to have people situationally aware, who are well trained on what to do both in this case with schools it has to do with teachers knowing what to do, how to put their classrooms on lockdown, has to do with the students knowing what to do to,” Sancenito said.
Joey Melvin, director of the Center for Safe Schools says in almost every school shooting there was an opportunity to disrupt the pathway of violence — behavioral warning signs.
“Anyone that can identify those risks and say something we can effectively disrupt that pathway and hopefully prevent these incidents from occurring,” Melvin said.
It’s why the state’s Safe 2 Say Something program is so important, as is reminding kids to report suspicious or concerning activity.
“90% of people who are going to commit an act of incidents or a school shooting or any kind of workplace violence incident tell someone before it happens,” Sancenito said.
After the school shooting last year in oxford, Michigan, we saw an uptick in school threats made in the Midstate. Melvin says it’s better for districts to be safe than sorry.
“When there’s a concern made, we can triage that and that’s the key and we’d rather triage a lot that ends up being nothing then missed the one that was never reported,” Melvin said.
A new FBI report shows active shooter incidents increased 52.5% from 2020 to 2021.