Last week, Milken conducted a lockdown drill in an effort to improve our school’s preparation in the case of an active shooter on campus. Besides providing a worthwhile simulation for the student body, this lockdown served as a wake-up call to me. It opened my eyes to the precariousness of our situation if, God forbid, a planned attack was executed against Milken.
This sentiment didn’t arise out of frustration with a futile exercise. It wasn’t. Nor did it spring from dissatisfaction from the inadequacy of our security staff. They are more than formidable. It was more of a realization that, even with an infinite number of simulations, two problems will arise from any effort to prepare the student body for such an event.
First, no matter how many school shootings we see on the news, some people will continue to maintain an aura of invincibility, holding the belief that Milken is immune to such an attack. This misguided notion leads some to trivialize the exercise, treating it as nothing more than a silly attempt to train for such an event.
The problem with this mindset is that if an attack were carried out, those same students would find themselves in a perilous situation without any idea how to act. Instead of methodically following the instructions the drill requires, some would aimlessly follow their fear and adrenaline, possibly making themselves an even greater target. This would only add to the pandemonium and chaos. While it is impossible to predict how all of us would react in such a situation, the chance to practice reacting to an active shooter scenario is invaluable.
The second and more disconcerting issue is the extent to which Milken as an institution can prevent such an atrocity. No matter how tight our security is, no matter what other precautions we take, and no matter how slight of a chance, as a school we are still susceptible to such a terrifying attack. We sit on one of the most prominent Jewish strips of real estate in the country, flanked by a synagogue, a university, and a museum. To not acknowledge the fact that we, with a large student and faculty population, would be targets would be naïve and reckless.
Acknowledging that these circumstances do put us at risk is the first step to approaching a lockdown drill appropriately. Even though we may not be able to fully prevent a well-planned attack, it is necessary to enact procedures that will allow us to at least thwart an assault. We simply need to recognize that we are not encapsulated in an impervious bubble. With this understanding comes a responsibility to act in an appropriate manner during lockdown exercises. Treating these drills with the level of respect they deserve can go a long way in ensuring that the worst-case scenario does not become a catastrophe.