Approved last night, the 4-2 vote by suburban Atlanta’s Cobb County school board was split along partisan lines, with critics arguing it does not specifically say which employees could carry weapons.
Meanwhile, in the neighboring state of Florida, the Miami-Dade public school police department held active shooter training at an area high school.
Both instances are just recent examples of schools responding to the uptick in school shootings the U.S. has seen in 2022.
In a cable news exclusive, NewsNation’s Brooke Shafer got an up-close look at the intensive exercise where she observed everything from students screaming for help to gunshots ringing in the hallways.
Shafer reports the police officers in Miami-Dade went into this situation blind, not knowing the scenario or exactly how it would play out, as their department wanted to make the drill as realistic as possible.
This type of training is happening across the country. Lockdown — or “active shooter” drills as they’re known by — have become a staple in American public schools, as they’re now used in more than 95% of schools and mandated in more than 40 states.
But this group of men and women in Miami-Dade say it’s personal. Many of them live not far from Parkland, where a gunman killed 17 and injured 17 others at a high school in 2018.
“What we can’t do is wait. Every second counts, every minute counts. Victim could be bleeding out and we have to make sure that no other victims are suffering,” Chief Edwin Lopez, who is the chief school safety and compliance officer for the Miami-Dade county public school system, said.
The worry is that all the drills in U.S. schools is having a serious impact on mental health. One Georgia Tech study found that after a school shooter drill, students reported a 39% increase in depression and a 42% increase in stress.
Lopez maintains that real-life simulations are critical in preparation.
“(They’re) extremely important. We need to be equipped with the same distractions that are going to happen, in a real scenario god forbid it happens. That means children are involved, gunshots, we have fire alarms going off, we have smoke,” he said.
For the police chief, the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, is especially significant. He said members of his department saw what happened at Robb Elementary School and have focused their efforts on what went wrong and how to prevent such a recurrence in their jurisdiction.
“Time is of the essence, we’ve analyzed these active shooter incidents from Columbine over 20 years ago to Robb Elementary School most recently and those in-between,” Lopez said. “Not only in K-12 setting particularly, but even in Virginia Tech and Florida State. We’ve unfortunately had shootings outside of schools, at country concerts in Las Vegas, movie theatres in Colorado… and time is of the essence we’ve learned.”