Should schools have police alarms?

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Mega85
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Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Mega85 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:18 pm UTC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMLdm2rHLIU

This video recommends that all schools install police alarms in addition to the fire alarms that they already have. People are responding "well, this will lead to prank lockdowns. You know how kids do fire alarm pranks? They'll be pulling the police pull as a prank." and "well, what's next? paramedic alarms? tornado alarms? flood alarms? bully alarms? fight alarms?"

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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Chen » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:39 pm UTC

Mega85 wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMLdm2rHLIU

This video recommends that all schools install police alarms in addition to the fire alarms that they already have. People are responding "well, this will lead to prank lockdowns. You know how kids do fire alarm pranks? They'll be pulling the police pull as a prank." and "well, what's next? paramedic alarms? tornado alarms? flood alarms? bully alarms? fight alarms?"


I think tornado alarms are already a thing. In today's age I'm also not sure how much faster some sort of police alarm would be vs someone calling 911 on their cell. Fire alarms at least are linked to fire detection systems.

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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby nicholasbrooks » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:35 pm UTC

Maybe there should be police arms in administrator offices or specific places just in case a 911 call isn't possible or might be too late.

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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Mega85 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:44 pm UTC

The thing about the name "police alarm" is the that it's too generic and might lead to people pulling it during fights or other situations that don't require the school to go into lockdown.

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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby ucim » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:50 pm UTC

Mega85 wrote:and might lead to people pulling it during fights or other situations that don't require the school to go into lockdown.
Enough people, including administrators, believe that the police should be called during fights that I'd say this isn't an aberration, but working as designed. Seems to me that it's a bad design.

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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Deva » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:20 pm UTC

Pull in case of…police?

How long does it take to call the office for a lockdown? (Assumes said office being available.) Is an alarm reasonably faster than that plus a rush of people yelling about a shooter? How large is the police response? Does response time (by police or students) improve meaningfully?

Sends text messages, apparently. Implies widespread cellular telephone ownership (and at hand), even in schools.

Cannot help but apply these arguments to fire alarms too. Connected water to them, at least. Hm. [notserious]Ought to activate defense turrets in schools.[/notserious]
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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:47 pm UTC

The fuck is the point of a police alarm?

Fire alarms make sense. A building on fire can take hours to get structural damage. Even in cases where the structure is just gone, completely in flames in minutes, the surroundings don't also go up in moments and need a line to keep the fire from spreading.

Alarm triggers, dispatcher is notified, dispatcher dispatches, fire department shows up, FD identifies the problem and goes from there.

The fuck is the point of a police alarm in the context of a school shooting?

Assuming the average distance between a school and is 1.5 miles, but taking in to account things like traffic and road curves, it'll probably take a cop 5 minutes from alert to get to the school and get out of the vehicle. From when the alarm is pulled and the dispatcher dispatches is likely another 30-60 seconds, assuming they don't call to verify. So 5-7 minutes for a cop to show up to a school.

My high school held about 500 students total. Probably small, relative to most of yours. Due to the layout, if someone was actively firing and assuming a good run, it would still take you about a minute to run from any given point to the furthest point of the structure.

That's assuming you aren't a cop trying to figure out what is going on - is it a shooter, is it a fight, is it an accident, etc. Assuming there are crowds of kids moving around, adults trying to herd them (hopefully) away from the shooter, the cop is only going to get vague general directions, not precise locations. After all, it's probably been 40-120 seconds since anyone near the cop saw the shooter.

So now the cop is trying to get through a crowd of freaked out kids (assuming there is a shooter) who believe there is a shooter, trying to find the suspect.

I'm assuming there's a sound and/or lights like for fire. If so, an accidental pull will be interpreted as a legitimate event by almost everyone in the building.

If it's silent and real, there's still going to be freaking out students in the halls trying to escape.

But assuming the shooter is shooting, there's at least an audible sound to follow. So call it three minutes to safely sweep the school as no cop is going to step in to a room without trying to establish if it's safe to do so.

We're at roughly ten minutes now. More if there is no further shooting.

Meanwhile, as a shooter, one could walk in a place, call it 30 seconds before the Cop alarm is pulled, shoot a dozen or more people in five minutes, leave, and be driving away before the cop even shows up. Now a cop is searching a building for a shooter they believe is in site, hunting down freaked out kids hiding in closets believing they are a shooter in waiting (while the kids in the closet are hiding from someone with a gun).

Some kid's going to be shot.

So... yeah, it's a fucking stupid idea. But it's still better than having armed teachers or guards on campus.
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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:55 pm UTC

Not yet having viewed the link (meant to do earlier, when I wasn't on a metered connection), my thought was that Police Alarm would be a siren specifically for a Policeman-worthy event, like a Fire Alarm is for a Fireman-worthy event. Later confirmed by mention of the Tornado Alarm (Tornadoman event warning!)

Now I'm reading discussion as being more Hotline(/Batphone) to the police, not creating any sort of general alert. And that's sorrt of already a thing, and doesn't solve the general problem of making the wider campus aware that this set of blaring alarms designates that one should hunker down in rooms rather than move en-mass through the corridors to look for an exit.

(I couldn't quote you chapter and verse, but various ships I've been on have had notices indicating that different patterns of alarms mean different things relating to the emergency (fire, flood, move towards lifeboats/etc but do not launch, launch lifeboats/etc NOW), and besides the possibility of being warned about the wrong/non-existent/North Korean threats through error or malicious false alarms this already seems possible. During my school-days, decades ago, the periodic alarms for starting/ending/moving-between lessons were short and modulated compared with the fire-alarm, despite being the same acoustic electro-bell network in use. Piezo-electric and speaker-based systems can provide a much greater discrimination of tone and 'shape' , possibly up to and including live commentary and highly-specific instructions from a suitably appointed broadcaster to deal with unforseen problems that no basic alarm-code has quite managed to fit into its particular mnemonic system.)

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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:52 pm UTC

chen's comment on fire alarms being linked to detection systems made me think about having this 'police alarm' linked a gunshot detection system. Researching whether such a system would be effective for interior spaces such as a school building, I learned that this is apparently already a thing: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nat ... /18176599/
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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Deva » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:07 pm UTC

Transcribed the first link.
Spoiler:
Kim Russell (Reporter): US schools have set the standards for protecting kids from school fires. In the last 15 years at least, there have been zero deaths. But when it comes to violence, US schools have a tragic record. According to the CDC, between 14 and 34 school-age children are victims of homicide on school grounds or on their way to and from school each and every year.

The threats sometimes come from within the school. At Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, two students killed 15 people, including themselves. Other times, the threats come from outside the school. At Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, in 2012, 20 year old Adam Lanza walked into the school, then fatally shot 20 six or seven year olds, as well as 6 adult staff members.

So why do we have fire alarms, but not police alarms?

Tyler Claxton (Student): I think it would make everyone feel a lot safer, and I think it would give the students control.

Kim Russell (Reporter): Tyler Claxton will start this fall at the first school in Michigan to use the Blue Point System. It’s basically a police alarm. (Transcriber Note: Looks like a blue fire alarm.) It’s at Bloomfield Hills High School.

Before, in order to initiate a lockdown, someone had to contact the main office. The main office had to contact police and send out a message over the PA system. Now, anyone can do this. *pulls alarm*

Electronic voice: Lockdown. Lockdown.

Kim Russell (Reporter): And immediately a message goes out over the PA system, police are notified, and everyone goes into lockdown.

Cory Donberger (Officer): It notifies us [uh] through a monitoring system, as well as text messages. So it gives us that real-time information that we need to respond appropriately.

Kim Russell (Reporter): Officer Cory Donberger says this system serves the Dept: they will see a visual alarm and get text messages with a warning. It costs about $67000 to install at the high school. The district is looking for ways to fund such a system in other schools. District leaders are calling on the state to consider funding such systems state-wide.

Cory Donberger (Officer): It’s time. And if we can buy time, that’s really the—I mean, that’s the most precious thing we have.

Kim Russell (Reporter): In Bloomfield Hills, Kim Russell, 7 Action News.
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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:49 pm UTC

$67k. Hmmm... Depends on the scale of the installation, but wall units (like fire ones, but labelled blue), wiring (including secondary labour costs for retouching/redecorating anywhere disturbed) and a console box like the fire one (if not the existing fire one) with slight firmware changes, with or without the same battery backup… Then tie in to the fire-'sirens' (if not already on the same box) and a suitable comms unit and wire over to the existing school PABX or a dedicated line (phone company can get kudos for supplying this free of additional subscription, as a near-zero-traffic dedicated line hardwired to the local PD) with but a few dollars of connectors (already available for fire-systems that link to the FD).

Add the costs of the PD-end handler if you will, but you can amortise that on the basis that multiple sources may feed into this central 'dispatch' system. And if they don:t already have such a thing as a programmable text-to-SMS bridge (multiple uses), why not?


Must be mostly labo(u)r costs. I was never that good at costing man-hours. And I'm far too ready to crawl into ceiling spaces and poke throufh wall voids with cables, myself, to worry too much about it.

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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Deva » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:10 pm UTC

Looked up costs for fire alarm systems.
Purchasing.com for fire alarm systems wrote: As each installation is custom tailored, costs will vary by location. In general, you can expect to spend up to $2 per square foot for new construction and $4 to $10 per foot for retrofitting an existing facility.


Costowl.com for fire alarm systems wrote: Fire alarm equipment is usually priced at $1 to $2 per square foot for a basic system that includes smoke and heat detectors and alarms that have both visual and audio alerts. For more complex systems in large buildings, the price goes up to $3 to $6 per square foot. Adding a sprinkler system increases the price by anywhere from $3 to $12 per square foot, not including installation.


Source wrote:The building is 317,687 square feet with another 14,773 square feet in an auxiliary building that was once the Andover maintenance building but now serves as the district’s Model Center.


Various prices:
317687 * 2 = 635,374
317687 * 3 = 953,061
317687 * 4 = 1,270,748
317687 * 6 = 1,906,122
317687 * 10 = 3,176,870

(Assumed just the main building.)

Sounds cheap, relatively. Demands different parts, of course.
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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:33 pm UTC

Unless you go for the aforementioned gunshot detectors1, it's not gong to need the detectors (scales per-square-foot) just the baseline wall-boxes (scales linearly to total corridor lengths throughout therehe, plus a near constant vs number of rooms - say plan on two panic buttons per classroom, one at teacher's desk, one more at the back or by the door, depending on layout, one in the 'cupboard' rooms, several around the more open spaces/auditoriums/gyms/etc). They might be slightly more densely distributed than manual fire-buttons, but not vastly so and aren't particularly sophisticted tech (certainly not sprinkler-control stuff, if that's not just a Wood's Metal plug on a 'live' water-pipe).

It's the wiring effort that is probably exponenting into higher costs for ever increasing sprawl, and the single highest cost is the box of tricks at the centre of the web (ramps up like a stepped pyramid, as you find you need a unit of double the inputs of the next lower model box to tie in the number of desired inputs (IP-based multiplexing aside, with higher base costs for the wall-units but saving on the every-encreasing collation of signal wires or reliance upon active/passive satellite junction-boxes) but is otherwise a fixed cost acoss a range of site-sizes) of which there's almost always just the one.

But with so many unknowns, I just used Fermi in my head, on prices I've never even seen in the form of dollars. A mere order of magnitude of error is the most charitable I could hope for, I suppose.


1 Or, for extra computational power and configuaration costs, precision triangulators. That would cost.

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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:42 pm UTC

A thought I had is that many schools have PA systems with two-way intercoms in each classroom. I wonder how difficult it would be to retrofit such a system to be capable of discerning gunshots. Triangulation would be unnecessary in that case, it'd be trivial to localize a shot to the closest intercom.

Edit: Another thought is that precision triangulating gunshot detectors have been in use by the military for decades at this point. It seems to me that it should be possible to make surplus of that equipment available to civilian government agencies in much the same way that other surplus military equipment has been made available to state and local police departments.
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Re: Should schools have police alarms?

Postby ucim » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:17 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Edit: Another thought is that precision triangulating gunshot detectors have been in use by the military for decades at this point. It seems to me that it should be possible to make surplus of that equipment available to civilian government agencies in much the same way that other surplus military equipment has been made available to state and local police departments.
When we are seriously considering installing military equipment in schools for defensive purposes, we should perhaps rethink the very idea of public education.

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