Lock Down Drills: Are They Effective?


Elke Coenders, Features Editor

Recently, there has been much upheaval on the topic of school safety. Some people are worried about gun control, some are concerned with school security, and others are concerned with the psyche of school shooters. While prevention is a key issue, preparation for an attack is crucial. Most schools prepare students and staff for a dangerous intruder through lock down drills.

Typical lock down drills consist of announcing a lock down over the intercom. Students must stay in or go to the nearest classroom and quietly hide from view. The door must be locked. Students and staff must stay in this position until a police officer unlocks the door and the “all clear” is announced.

Lock down drills are conducted once every semester, so twice a school year. The intent of these drills, as is with all drills, is to be prepared for an emergency through practicing the exact conduct that would occur if the emergency was real. However, the effectiveness of lock down drills, in my opinion, is concerning.

First of all, it has not been made clear to students which protocol to follow if there is a fire alarm and a lock down at the same time. Many people are not aware that the fire alarm can be pulled to lure crowds of students out in a frenzy, making it easy for an intruder to find victims.

Also, hiding is unlikely to work in a real attack because the invader would know the location of students in the building, since a lock down announcement would be made. Hiding in school is especially ineffective because there are not enough places to hide the large amount of students at Lafayette.

Another issue with lock down drills is timing. The drills do not occur at a realistic time. Students are most vulnerable to shootings during lunch time, when they are entering the building, when they are exiting the building, and during transition times because they are in crowds and do not have a good place to hide. However, lock down drills only occur during class time, instead of when an invasion is most likely.

Teachers and students alike have expressed concerns towards lock down protocol. Does it prepare us for a real emergency? Will people abide by the procedures if the lock down is not a drill? Are there better ways to react to an attack that simply cannot be practiced?

Yes, lock downs are not the perfect way to prepare for an attack. There are many components of the protocol that would not work during a real emergency. However, a means of getting students and teachers ready and giving them an idea of how to react to an invasion is necessary.

Realistically, the current type of lock down is the best we can do without causing chaos every drill—imagine every few months, crowds of student during lunch, in the morning, or at dismissal running frantically for cover. In addition to prevention, we must do whatever we can to prepare for an invasion, and a lock down is one of the things we have control of.