New Sandy Hook Elementary School: Safer By Design or Security Theater?


For some reason, photographer Robert Benson doesn't want us to use his photos of the new Sandy Hook School.

“Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the site of the 2012 shooting that killed 20 children and six adults, has been rebuilt by architects Svigals + Partners to incorporate the latest anti-terror measures,” dezeen.com reports. “Working alongside the traumatised community of Newtown, Svigals + Partners designed the outside of the school to include a long walkway through a rain garden, intended to help the school ‘deter, detect and delay’ potential intruders.” Yes, well, for how long?

(courtesy wikipedia.org)

On December 14, 2012, at 9:35:30 a.m., someone from Sandy Hook Elementary School called the Newtown police to report an active shooter.

Shattered door to old, now destroyed Sandy Hoook Elementary School

After an on-scene delay, two officers from the Newtown Police Department entered Sandy Hook Elementary, some ten minutes after the station received the call, at 9:45 a.m.

The officers made entry after Adam Lanza had killed himself, approximately 15 minutes after the shooting had started. Neither the Newtown nor State police fired a shot during or after the Sandy Hook slaughter.

For some reason, photographer Robert Benson doesn't want us to use his photos of the new Sandy Hook School.

Would the new school’s long walkway delay an active shooter 14 minutes? Ten minutes? Five? Would that be enough to prevent homicides? Those questions assume there’d be one attacker, on foot, with a gun, attacking in one direction, from one direction.

“Good buildings should prevent unwanted intrusions of any kind,” Jay Brotman, managing partner of Svigals + Partners, told Dezeen.

For some reason, photographer Robert Benson doesn't want us to use his photos of the new Sandy Hook School.

“This approach leads us to explore how to keep intruders from gaining access from a building, often with layouts that reduce visibility from the street and direct traffic flow strategically in ways that allow potential threats to be detected early,” he continued.

For some reason, photographer Robert Benson doesn't want us to use his photos of the new Sandy Hook School.

Meanwhile, the inside of the school is made to maximise escape routes – classrooms are situated far away from likely points of entry, and face towards a woodland, granting easy access to alternative exits.  Each classroom is also equipped with locks and security doors.

So much fail.

– Reduced visibility from the street into the school means less chance that someone outside the school will detect a problem inside the school.

– Detecting malevolent traffic flow (i.e., bad guy/guys walking) is not the same as stopping the threat.

– Doors designed to prevent unwanted intrusions can also be used by terrorists to prevent “unwanted” police “intrusion.”

– Easy access out of a classroom is also easy access into a classroom.

– Locks and security doors can be breached.

– The more potential entry points, the more difficult it is to monitor any one entry point.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the new Sandy Hook’s been hardened against an attack. Several of the new school’s features are straight out of the post-Newtown National School Shield –the now-forgotten NRA program offering a common sense, comprehensive approach to defending school children against armed attack.

For some reason, photographer Robert Benson doesn't want us to use his photos of the new Sandy Hook School.

Equally important, the new Sandy Hook Elementary’s design shows that the community is taking student safety seriously and, perhaps, changing their official response to an active shooter. (Here’s hoping the kids are taught to disperse into the woods rather than shelter in a closet.) But I’m afraid all these measures are little more than more security theater.

While it’s not strictly true that a good guy with a gun is the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, a good guy with a gun is certainly the most effective and immediate solution to an active shooter or terrorist attack. Sandy Hook and its designers acknowledge this fact by trying to build in delays that allow the good guys with guns to arrive before it’s too late.

For some reason, photographer Robert Benson doesn't want us to use his photos of the new Sandy Hook School.

Unfortunately, it’s mission impossible. Sandy Hook’s new set-up assumes a similar style attack as the one the community suffered at the hands of Adam Lanza. A committed group of terrorists — such as the murderers responsible for the Beslan school massacre — would make short work of the school’s defenses and the responding cops.

Hitler's French bunker (courtesy dailymail.co.uk)

In fact, there’s no way the school’s architects could or even should create a structure “able to withstand unwanted intrusions of any kind.” That would require far more money than even Newtown’s well-heeled burghers could provide, and produce a finished building that would resemble nothing so much as Hitler’s French bunker.

The relative expense of the new “hardened” Sandy Hook Elementary school should not be downplayed. There are tens of thousands of American schools which would be lucky to afford new locks on rickety old doors, never mind clean-sheet defensive architecture. Armed staff are these students’ only hope of an effective counter for an active shooter or shooters — at least until the police arrive.

Armed teachers, administrators, staff and/or parents are the simplest, cheapest and most effective defense against a school shooter or shooters. Period. Even watchful police and armed guards — who may or may not still be on site at Sandy Hook — aren’t as valuable an asset. Cops and guards are easily identified and, let’s face it, frequently bored and thus unwary targets.

Texas private school's amed teachers sign (courtesy federalistpapers.com)

As I’ve written numerous times, Bush the Elder’s Gun Free School Zone Act must be repealed — a promise that candidate Trump made to supportive crowds (and hasn’t mentioned once since his election). Local and state laws prohibiting law-abiding Americans from exercising their gun rights inside the school gates must also be struck down.

It blows my mind that our political system prohibits the simplest, most obvious, least expensive and most practical defense against school shooters: armed teachers, staff and parents. It’s a thought that occurs to me every single morning I drop my daughter off at school.

comments

  1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Proper security requires both a hardened site AND armed defenders.

    The purpose of hardening is to make it obvious when someone is attacking (breaching the location makes it clear that person is not there to sell magazine subscriptions) and to slow down the attackers enough that armed defenders can get into position to turn back the attackers with defensive gunfire.

    Hardening alone isn’t enough. And armed defenders alone isn’t enough.

    1. avatar Adam says:

      you sir, did NOT just fall off the turnip truck,
      very well put. but never implemented.

  2. avatar Jross says:

    Damn! It looks like a community college campus.

    Growing up in the 90s all my schools were built in the 50s, weren’t kept up and looked like complete garbage. I remember one year they got enough money to remove asbestos insulation and there were always plastic drop cloths around as they worked through the school.

  3. avatar st381183 says:

    A committed attack against an unarmed facility where the employees believe that lightning does strike the same place twice……none of that would work. They need to research past attacks and potential future attacks. Cutting power, ambushing first responders, explosives, and evil intent cannot be stopped. Education, planning, and teachers with guns willing to fight on their feet rather than die or their knees is what’s needed. If only one or two teachers had been armed, or a plan other than hiding like ostriches had been in place a lot of lives would have been saved. The loss of those children and employees is even more poignant when we realize PC culture will not do anything to protect lives. At least no ones feelings will get hurt.

    1. avatar How_Terrible says:

      If you are going to arm school staff you will want more then 1-2 of them to be trained and armed. I’d say that it would be best to have at least 15% – 20% of both your teaching and non-teaching (mostly administrative, maintenance, and custodial) staff to be trained and armed so that you have the best chance for a quick and, hopefully, effective response to major security threats. Ideally you would also have at least 1 police officer assigned full time to every school, but for smaller rural communities that isn’t always viable.

      For example I live in a town of roughly 1,200. We have a total of three police officers. Paying for an officer to work full time in a K-8 school with less then 250 students just isn’t financially viable. (our 9th – 12 grades were merged with a neighboring district this year.)

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        If you are going to arm school staff you will want more then 1-2 of them to be trained and armed. I’d say that it would be best to have at least 15% – 20% of … staff to be trained and armed so that you have the best chance for a quick and, hopefully, effective response to major security threats.

        At some point after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School attack, I came up with an idea that I think would be outstanding and fit the bill nicely. Install a small vertical locked box in every classroom. The locked box will have a single-shot 20 gauge shotgun. In order to open the box, a staff member must use a key on the box AND another person (such as a student) must also depress an interlock feature that is beyond the reach of any person at the box.

        This requires TWO people to access the shotgun and one of the people must be a staff member with a key. The shotgun is a single-shot variety which greatly reduces the number of victims if a teacher goes nuts and coerces or fools a student into helping. And yet you would have as many shotguns (and shots) as you have classrooms.

        1. avatar How_Terrible says:

          That isn’t a bad idea except for the part about having a key. A physical key in this case is a problem. It can be lost, or it could be stolen by a student or other person with malicious intent. Even if a teacher is supposed to keep it on their person at all times you just know that some of them would store it in / on their desk or some other place were others would be able to access it.

          I think it would be better to have some sort of biometric looking device in place of a physical key. A biometric lock has the added bonus of making things easier for school administrators since they wouldn’t have to worry about collecting keys from staff members that end their employment with a school. Instead all they would have to do is void their access.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          How_Terrible,

          Oh, I like the biometric lock angle. My only concern is how reliable the biometric recognition and unlocking mechanism is. I was also hoping to keep the cost down to, well, next to nothing. A simple key lock has to be cheap compared to a reliable biometric lock.

          In terms of teachers who no longer work at the school, it would be on the school to change the lock the same day that the teacher leaves.

          Maybe there is a middle ground? How about a card swipe reader that unlocks the box? Those have to be pretty inexpensive at this point. And they have to be reliable since secure installations use them EVERYWHERE. Every teacher should be wearing his/her card around his/her neck or else they cannot move about the school. And it would equally easy/simple to update the boxes as to which cards the school authorizes to unlock the box.

    2. avatar Adam says:

      god bless you, for actually knowing/wanting to do what it takes to protect children in schools.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    I see glass doors and windows at ground floor level.

    If the janitors cart doesn’t have a shotgun and AR racked to it they’re just pretending to secure the place.

    1. avatar How_Terrible says:

      That is a comprise. You can build a school to be as secure as a supermax prison, but would you actually want to send you kids to a place that is that depressing and whould they even want to go in the first place?

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        People get brutally killed in supermax prisons every day.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          Yes, but nobody’s breaking in to do it.

    2. avatar California Richard says:

      Janitor’s closet? Hell no! Have the elementary school teachers sling m1 carbines!
      http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/israel-school-shooting-guns/2012/12/17/id/468002/

      1. avatar jwm says:

        In American schools the teachers are normally limited in their access to different areas of the school. Their keys are normally just for their classrooms and a few other areas like their lounge. They spend most of their time in their classroom and may have limited knowledge of the rest of the school.

        Janitors have keys to everything and they have intimate knowledge of the physical plant. The only other person on campus, normally, that has that involved a key ring is the principal. And the janitor mostly has more knowledge of the schools lay out than the admin.

        Teachers should be armed. But don’t ignore the resource of the janitor.

  5. avatar FedUp says:

    classrooms are situated far away from likely points of entry,

    Our new building is a model of inefficiency, designed to maximize walking distances for building users.
    And the handicapped kids? Screw them if they can’t take a hike.

  6. avatar Iillinois_Minion says:

    But they “feel” its a safer design. Isn’t that all that matters? The police are just a phone call away!

    This is a perfect example of why more people should partake with home schooling. Stop spreading the stoopid,

    1. avatar How_Terrible says:

      I don’t know about that… I know / have known some home schoolers that have been able to spread a pretty fair amount of stupid around. Also, home schooling isn’t financially viable for everyone.

  7. avatar tjlarson2k says:

    Just put the TSA at the door to complete the illusion.

  8. avatar Nanashi says:

    You missed something about this bit

    “Svigals + Partners designed the outside of the school to include a long walkway through a rain garden, intended to help the school ‘deter, detect and delay’ potential intruders.”

    Even if no attacker(s) are smart enough to turn that into a killing field against first responders, it will significantly delay them.

  9. avatar cmac890 says:

    My biggest fear would be that advertising this would be taken as a challenge to copycats. This seems like it’s asking for trouble.

    1. avatar How_Terrible says:

      On one hand you’re not wrong. On the other hand the people whose tax dollars funded the the construction of the school do have a right to know what they are paying for.

  10. avatar Ralph says:

    Talk about locking the barn door after the horses have run off.

    Only parents “educated” by the public school system could be this stupid.

  11. avatar Eric says:

    cmon now! how do you defend against false flags?!

  12. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    I don’t want to have to retrieve my foil hat from my bunker, but…why was this school torn down? Columbine wasn’t. Virginia Tech wasn’t. Cleveland Elementary wasn’t.

    Interesting that the destruction of the Waco buildings seemed to happen to prevent any analysis of the fight (e.g., missing front door).

    Food for thought.

  13. avatar El Bearsidente says:

    “direct traffic flow strategically in ways that allow potential threats to be detected early”

    How would that even work. How does that make even the slightest sense? How does directing hallway traffic in some way help me detect a potential attacker.

    This makes no sense.

  14. avatar the bastard from Ballarat says:

    bit of a pity youse Yanks let those gun-grabbing mongrels get away with this BS…..
    only encouraged them to ‘pull off’ another bunch of BS…. Vegas!

  15. avatar Timoa Theos says:

    The best protection would be if Sandy Hook never happened in the first place.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sandy-hook-shooting-investigation-fbi-documents/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab7e&linkId=43899519

    Instead of suing Remington they should be suing whoever ignored the warning. Why this isnt headline news in CT doesnt baffle me. Its like they wanted what happened to have happened so they could get more gun control in Connecticut.

    1. avatar the bastard from Ballarat says:

      lol
      yep…..but…HEY……it never did happen …. SHES was closed many years ago…..

      1. avatar GunDoc says:

        Hey, hey hey! Don’t confuse them with pesky facts!

        Of COURSE 20 kids and 6 adults were killed by a Salt Gun wielding maniac that just happened to be a zombie (death certificate from the day before) at a building that had been shut since 2008 (no internet activity since then, public record that it was closed due to black mold and asbestos), and that the victims were the magical kind that had no blood in their bodies, and left NO blood spatter on the floor. Oh yes, this was also a completely agnostic school, and NOT permitted to have a SINGLE Christmas decoration twelve days before Christmas.

        Yeah. And unicorns are real too. I swear, the stupid is getting strong. All you have to do is show it on TV, and it is “real.” It’s probably too late to enjoin people to extract their heads from their rectums.

        Now, back to “will it blend, shotgun version.”

        1. avatar Matt says:

          Have you ever actually looked through the pictures? I’ve looked at them all. There is blood in some of the pictures, though most are redacted. You can clearly see where someone had their brains blown out, they didn’t redact all of that. I’m sure an entire town and innumerable other individuals are in on a conspiracy.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          A public record of being shut in 2008? Who would pull such a “false flag” op with records that public on the location?

          The Keystone Cops?

          These “theories” collapse under the weight of the Retard.

  16. avatar Hellbilly says:

    Sandy Hook: Murderer gains entry by shooting at and shattering the glass of the entry doors.

    The old school is torn down and replaced with a new school that is built with walls of windows…

    Fail.

  17. avatar HEGEMON says:

    This is an illusion that was sold to the residents. There is too much glass, choke points galore and the possibility that any potential attacker(s) could creep up undetected from the sheltering woods. The school board may have contracted an architectural firm with what appears as absolutely ZERO guidance from real security professionals. By real I don’t mean retired FBI agents, who usually flood these jobs and have ZERO concept of physical security. Lots of wasted cash on this project.

  18. avatar Joe R. says:

    It’s another “Route 91 Harvest Festival”, looking for some more lemmings. F’ers should be sued just for claiming that they can protect your kids, because they can’t.

  19. avatar JSIII says:

    NIU hardened most of their dorm and other buildings after the shooting. Doors are all VERY heavy duty, I don’t know if the individual room doors stop rifle fire but they would be very difficult to breach. Also upon an emergency activation at least in the dorms I visited each floor has heavy doors that close to partition them off. You can open them from the inside to go to the stairwell, but once in the stairwells you can only go down to the first floor without a special key-card.

    More than security theater but also very very expensive.

  20. avatar Drake_Burrwood says:

    If my understanding is correct the old School had Lately finished upgrading their Security standards to EMI FEMA Homeland defense standards. Including the Staff having taken the Independent Studies Program on-line certs.. which means that when the Principal attacked up the hall against the shooters fire.
    She knew the dice were almost impossibly against her.. but that, her death would buy time, and force him to spend focus and extra ammo on her. Giving others time to hide, and run.
    In other words, to prevent being forced to arm their childrens protectors.. they have to tear down all that upgrade, and build from ground up.

  21. avatar ops says:

    I thought Sandy Hook was the beginning of false flag attacks in the US. Always wondered how no pictures were ever really leaked and only staged.

  22. avatar PavePusher says:

    Lots of glass windows at ground level = easy entry.

    Lots of building facing a close, wooded area = easy approach.

    Lack of armed security, be it teachers or dedicated guards = the fucktarts learned NOTHING.

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