Death in The Classroom

By Lt. Joseph Pangaro, CSO, CPM 


In the days since Sandy Hook school attack, where babies were slaughtered in their classrooms by a mentally ill person, and the attack on the Uvalde School, and the Covenant School, we have talked more about school safety and security than ever before. Many school districts have made plans; we have tried to institute new policies designed to make our kids safe, and we have looked to technology to help us. And while this is good, it is not nearly enough since not every district has done what they need to do, nor has our federal or state governments provided the financial assistance needed to make every school safer.


There is no way to bring this topic up anymore without a feeling of helplessness and frustration. For the past 10 years, I have been teaching about school safety and security, writing articles about how to make schools safer, running webinars on the topic, and speaking on various radio programs all in an effort to get the attention of our school boards, administrators, parents, and government officials so they will take the steps they need to take to make their schools safer. But I still I get the same comment from so many: “It will never happen here.”


That phrase is what I describe as the most dangerous statement that anyone can make. And to be clear, let me answer the “It will never happen here” concept: “You are wrong, it can happen at your school, it can happen anywhere, get ready the next attack is only weeks, day, or minutes away!”


Every parent or guardian should call their school district and ask if they have done the following tasks:


1. Has the school district conducted a professional Threat, Vulnerability, and Risk Assessment (TVRA)?

2. Have the staff been trained to recognize potentially dangerous students and have an intervention plan? This is known as developing a Student-based threat assessment team.

3. Have the staff been trained to de-escalate situations before they erupt into violence?

4. Has the district developed a district-wide plan to identify students who don’t feel connected to their school or their peers, such disconnection is often observed in individuals who later become active shooters within school environments.

5. What technology do you have in place to keep the school safe?

6. What kind of drills are conducted? Are they drills that provide value, or are they merely performed to fulfill a requirement?


In the course of my work, I talk to many school officials who say they want to do more, they just don’t have the money for a quality assessment or upgrading equipment, in many cases, that is true. How then can we help those districts?


We have to demand that our state and federal government fund these programs and equipment with simple, easy-to-apply for grants that can be obtained by every district. This will be costly, but what are our kids and teachers’ lives worth? I say at least as much as we just sent to Ukraine to help them survive and be safe from attack, that would be a good start.

For those who think taking away all guns is the answer, it is not. We cannot and should not disarm law abiding who are exercising their 2nd amendment right; instead, we should consider how we can screen out mentally ill people so they cannot get weapons. That is where we can find reasonable processes to help.

We can ensure the enforcement of existing gun laws nationwide. Here’s a good idea, let’s accept that they way to make our justice system fairer is to not allow killers and violent criminals out of jail with no bail. It doesn’t work; they just commit more crimes, kill more people, and destroy an orderly society,

So, what can we do?

I have given some suggestions here; I urge everyone to heed them and take action. If you have questions or concerns, you can reach out to me, this is what I do. Please email me at