Mark Powell Discusses School Safety After Uvalde Shooting

Written by William Hekman

After the horrible Uvalde shooting at Robb Elementary School, some Republican lawmakers are pushing to increase security at schools and many schools are re-evaluating how they handle school safety. Former San Diego County Board of Education member and law enforcement analyst Mark Powell spoke with Newsy to discuss school safety and new measures that can keep kids safe. 

Powell said the first major step to ensuring school safety is locking all doors. In the Uvalde shooting, the shooter was able to enter the school through an unlocked door. Powell said that changes need to be made to locking procedures and there must be increased training on active shooter drills, “Teachers, administrators, need to have this kind of active shooter training all the time and this training needs to be funded by local, state and federal governments. This needs to be a core function of local government, and state government, and all of our governments”. Powell also said that the increased training and funding can help stop future attacks and shootings such as Uvalde.  

Powell also said that officers should be trained similar to the way their departments train SWAT teams, especially school police officers. “These officers should have been trained to go and reach that classroom, get in there as fast as they can, and save the lives of these students”.  Powell said that the Uvalde shooting is similar to another case a few years where the school officer waited outside as the shooter was going through the school before calling in backup. The case that Powell referenced was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

Most school districts contract their officers from a police department or sheriff’s department. Most view school officer jobs as stepping stones to higher positions, and there was not a lot of emphasis on school officers according to Powell, but that needs to change says Powell, “The state, federal, and local government needs to actively recruit police officers that their main job is school safety.” Other avenues Powell suggested include private security as well as a volunteer program filed by reserve or former law enforcement officers. 

Another aspect that schools must start to focus on is the mental health of their students. Powell said that there needs to be more guidance counselors. Powell said that many counselors are overwhelmed and that the student-to-counselor ratio is 500 to 1 in some districts, “We have to change the way we are doing things because what we are doing isn’t working.” 

Photo Cred: Chandan Khanna/AFP Via Getty Images