How Safe Are Our Schools?

Patch surveyed Milwaukee-area school districts about security measures in place at their schools. See how Whitefish Bay compares with other Milwaukee-area districts.

The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut stole 26 lives and again opened the door on conversations about gun control and mental health.

But another topic that has emerged is security in schools, and whether we are doing enough to keep children safe. Following the shooting, the National Rifle Association advocated arming teachers and stationing armed guards in schools. 

  • Read how Whitefish Bay School District responds to emergencies

Patch surveyed Milwaukee area school districts on their schools' security practices. The 16 districts that responded to the survey are: Cudahy, Nicolet High School, Glendale-River Hills/Mapledale-Indian Hill, Muskego-Norway, Greendale, Shorewood, Oak Creek-Franklin, Menomonee Falls, Mequon-Theinsville, Racine Unified School District, Whitefish Bay, Whitnall School District, Port Washington-Saukville School District, Elmbrook School District, the School District of Waukesha and Franklin School District.

Of those 16, seven said they had some sort of security staff at the school, ranging in description from supervisory aids to liaison officers and district employees serving as security aids. At Shorewood High, campus security is available.

Closed-circuit TV monitoring systems are already in place in 14 districts. The Menomonee Falls School District was the only one who responded that the district does not have closed circuit monitoring, but said they are nailing down a final price before installing a system. Waukesha did not respond to that question.

All districts said they participate in regular lockdown drills with their students, and most lock all doors to the school during class hours; some districts said a main entrance is often left unlocked.

Wisconsin has no official guidelines for security in schools, said Peter Pochowski, executive director of the Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association, but law requires they have a crisis plan in place and that they perform at least two emergency drills each year.

Pochowski said some districts seem to feel they don't need to be prepared, because they don't think something like the Sandy Hook shooting could happen. 

"The first thing is to understand that school-type shooting incidents can happen anywhere," he said. 

He recommends districts create crisis management teams that work together to develop the crisis plan and prioritize security needs.

"It's simple but not easy," he said. 

Find out more about a particular district, or compare a few by using the above database. You can select multiple districts in the list to compare several districts on the same page. The database may not be viewable on mobile devices.

Jeff Rumage January 03, 2013 at 09:54 PM
I think it's a pretty subjective question, intended to draw interest and provoke discussion. If you look at the security procedures in place at other area high schools, it seems (from my point of view) that Whitefish Bay's cameras, locked doors, sign-in system, lockdown drills and other features are consistent with procedures at other similar school districts in the area. That's just my opinion, though.
JGK January 04, 2013 at 03:24 AM
As long as gun guys can walk around with automatic weapons and building with glass is not safe...Got to get stiffer gun laws here...you know, like the Cocaine and Heroin Laws...and DUI and jay walking..etc, I put this question to Mark Behling years ago...find out what happens to convicted felons picked up in Milwaukee with a loaded gun...(they lose the gun and make a promise to pay a fine). JGK Riverwest Annex (Shorewood)
A WFB Resident January 05, 2013 at 03:41 PM
A WFB Resident January 31, 2013 at 04:15 AM
so after your article posted today that outlines the guns drifting in and out of various Whitefish Bay and other schools and how the gun incident was "caught on camera" but nothing could be done until the situation was reported and the cameras were reviewed (days later) do you still stand by your statement that you think our schools are still safe? Just curious and appreciate your answer.
A WFB Resident February 01, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Your lack of response answers the question.


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