The Illinois State Senate has passed new legislation that would enable schools to use door-locking mechanisms to protect classrooms from intruders.
The legislation (IL-Senate Bill 1371) was suggested and supported by school superintendents; it would let school districts use door-locking mechanisms that attach to the door and are lockable and unlockable from the inside of the classroom. The mechanism must be unlockable from the outside by a key or tool given to police or fire departments.
State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) said: "This is a simple, affordable, sensible way to secure classrooms and protect students. Law enforcement trains students, faculty, and staff to 'barricade' in the event of an immediate threat to safety from an intruder into a school. However, Illinois regulations currently prevent schools from investing in locking mechanisms that could protect our children."
Law enforcement, fire, and security officials are hesitant about the potential barriers to emergency evacuation and response, however.
"This well-intentioned bill introduces significantly more risks than it addresses," Paul Timm, PSP, tells Security Management. Timm is an associate and vice president of physical security services for Facility Engineering Associates (FEA), Inc. and a member of the Chicago chapter of ASIS International. "Classroom barricade devices violate NFPA codes and ADA standards. They can also be used by those with malevolent intent. Schools should utilize existing locks or pursue code-compliant upgrade options. Schools should not permit fear and a lack of knowledge to open the door to unintended consequences."
If the bill passes, Illinois would be the fourth state in the U.S. Midwest—alongside Kansas, Michigan, and Ohio—to allow these types of barricades during lockdowns. The legislation now heads to the Illinois House for consideration.
Read more about school security in the Security Management archives, and follow updates on legal decisions in the monthly Legal Report.