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Proposed bill to put locks state-wide

by Breonnah Colon - Editor-In-Chief
Fri, Nov 30th 2018 04:00 pm

The past year has been riddled with multiple mass shootings, many of which took place directly on or near school campuses. As shocking as hearing of mass killings or even the presence of a gunman may be to many, it highlights an aspect of American society that some say has been overlooked by the federal government. 

With the increase in this specific type of crime, the New York State Assembly is assessing a proposed bill which would mandate all school campuses to have locks on every door in academic buildings as a safety precaution. While still in the early stages of being looked over, the bill would take a step toward federal regulation, implementing security measures in response to school shootings, something which has not been passed to date. 

This news comes with mixed reactions from different people depending on their experiences. Sophomore Taylor Murphy lived in Greece, N.Y. but recently moved to the Brockport village and attended Brockport High School for several years. Being a student at different schools molded her experience and expectations for safety, standards she feels were sufficiently met while attending school in Brockport. However, crime taking place in the surrounding area caused apprehension for her.

“I went to a lot of Greece schools until the tenth grade when my parents bought a house in Brockport and I transfered to Brockport High School,” Murphy said. “Comparing [my experiences] I definitely felt more safe in Brockport, but then breakins started happening in the area, my house included, which threw off the [feeling of] safety.”

While her sense of safety was initially shaken by crime in the village rather than at the school itself, there were several incidents that took place that further rose questions about safety.

“There were a few times where [safety] was questionable,” Murphy said. “There was a bomb threat where we had to evacuate to the middle school [and] a few times where there were lockdowns because of people with guns. There was someone in the college area with a gun and we had to have a real lockdown.”

Beyond incidents taking place in the nearby area, there were also situations where students faced extended school days due to the repercussions of crimes. Murphy explained she was held half an hour later than the typical time of dismissal because of a car accident that took place due to an individual who was under the influence of heroin. Regardless of outside situations, Murphy maintained a sense of security within the school building and understands there are certain situations that are out of the control of school administration’s hands.

“I never really felt endangered at [Brockport High School] out of all the schools I’ve been to, I’ve felt most safe at Brockport,” Murphy said. “No matter where you go there’s always going to be the outside world that impacts the school life.”

The reason behind Murphy’s feeling of safety was rooted heavily in the level of communication that existed between teachers and students. This allowed students to have an understanding of what was taking place as well as how to deal with the situation.

“A lot of the teachers were just better communicators,” Murphy said. “They didn’t panic, they were always willing to talk, no matter what it was about. Just because they weren’t counselors didn’t mean they couldn’t talk to you and I think that’s what really made me feel comfortable. When you put teachers who don’t care into a situation of panic, you don’t know who to trust or what to do. So, teachers at Brockport really helped to stay calm and just listen to instructions.”

Murphy believes having schools add extra locks could offer a safe option to help administration strengthen security methods. She pointed out there are already locks on most doors, especially to get into school buildings. While locks may seem to be a small change, Murphy believes they can make a difference for students and faculty alike to make potentially life saving decisions.

“I would say [adding locks] would be a necessary use of funds,” Murphy said. “Just having something there could help with an extra barrier, even if it only helps for an extra five minutes, it still offers time to figure out what to do.”

Murphy raised the point of financial expense, which will be a very important factor in whether New York state passes the bill. There has yet to be information regarding how the locks would be funded or what standards would need to be met in order to be considered proper security. 

Beyond prices, some people don’t consider locks to be an adequate form of protection. Sophomore Kenya Petty doesn’t believe locks are a sufficient measure to take to ensure safety.

Petty attended school in Buffalo, N.Y, experienced both situations and safety protocols similar to Murphy and agrees there needs to be some further level of security. However, she doesn’t think locks will make much of a difference for potential threats in the building due to the glass windows most classroom doors have.

“Locks would just be a waste of money,” Petty said. “All schools have locks anyway, you can’t just walk into a school. Even still, all the doors have glass. So, even if the doors are locked you can still see through. If you have a gun, you can just shoot the glass, put your hand through and open the door.”

Rather than add locks to doors, Petty believes methods such as erecting metal detectors by school entrances would be a better form of security. She made the point assailants already in the building or in a classroom cannot be stopped by a locked door, but could be deterred from even entering the building if an alarm goes off at the entrance of a building.

The Brockport elementary and middle school declined to comment, and the Brockport high school could not be reached at the time of this publication

The federal government does not keep track of school shootings, however, headlines from across the nation show there is work to be done regarding safety. For now, New York residents will have to wait and see whether steps toward federal regulation will be made.

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