Florida School Board Shooting Raises Questions About Campus Security

Shocking video footage of a gunman opening fire at a Florida school board meeting is being viewed at colleges and universities throughout the country today. While no students or school officials were harmed during the Dec. 14 incident, it raises questions about the level of security that is needed at educational institutions.

Clay Duke, a 56-year-old man, shot and killed himself after firing bullets at members of the Bay County School Board. Duke sat through the entire meeting before the board opened the floor for public feedback. The man spray-painted a ‘V’ on the room’s wall, then pulled out a gun. On several occasions during the video, Duke can be heard saying that “someone was going to die today.”

While many high schools and colleges have strengthened its campus security forces since the Columbine shootings in 1999 and the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, the Florida school board incident serves as another reminder that educational facilities are still vulnerable to attacks by deranged criminals.

According to The Huffington Post, colleges and universities have different approaches to ensuring safety for its students. In Massachusetts, for example, Tufts University, Boston University, Harvard College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have electronic tools that quickly inform students of public safety threats.

However, each private college in the Bay State can set its own policy on providing crime reports to the public, according to the news provider. This means that student journalists or curious residents who are trying to obtain criminal records do not the right to full disclosure.

“Major universities with sworn police are investigating serious crimes but not turning over information,” S. Daniel Carter, public policy director at national advocacy group Security On Campus, told the media outlet. “As far as we know, there are no states that specifically make private universities with state sworn police officers disclose reports. It is sort of the last frontier in the campus public records battles.”

A campus crime information bill has stalled in the Massachusetts legislature. Supporters of the bill say that it would improve public safety with more transparency and accountability, according to the news provider.

Meanwhile, small junior colleges are making efforts to improve security as well. Security Director News reports that a California community college has installed 15 high-definition cameras on its campus as part of an effort to provide better resolution for criminal investigations. The cameras can zoom in on buildings that are up to a half-mile away.

“The main selling point was the clarity of the picture and the ability to do an investigation while the cameras were still functional,” Don Peterson, the school’s director of information technology, told the news source. BOLA TANGKAS