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School security expert raises concerns, points out deficiencies following Texas shooting

'The plans are only as good as the training and implementation,' Curtis Lavarello says
Posted at 6:03 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 18:03:03-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Security at schools across the country are be reanalyzed following Tuesday's mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas.

As details emerge on what happened before the mass murder, some school security experts are raising concerns.

WPTV spoke Thursday with Curtis Lavarello, a national school security expert, to get his thoughts on the deadly shooting and about school safety in general.

Unlocked doors and no resource officer inside were only part of the issues, Lavarello said.

Curtis Lavarello, school security expert
Curtis Lavarello shares his thoughts on the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

There is also the question of the 40 minutes of delayed response by a SWAT team outside the school while the gunman was inside.

"I've searched my brain. I've been doing this since before Columbine, and I can't think of any single reason why there ever [would] be a 40-minute delay," Lavarello said.

The former School District of Palm Beach County police officer now heads the School Safety Advocacy Council based in Sarasota.

Lavarello works with school districts around the country on issues of security and stopping dangerous intruders.

"(Law enforcement) have the means to breach classrooms," he said. "You do whatever you have to do to breach that classroom."

Crosses with the names of Tuesday's shooting victims are placed outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Crosses with the names of Tuesday's shooting victims are placed outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, May 26, 2022.

He said emergency plans are vital only if they are followed, and things like unlocked doors can be costly mistakes.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that plan was followed or adhered to, and that's where you create these gaps that allow the vulnerability to increase," Lavarello said.

School security became a priority in Florida after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

Lavarello said security efforts around the country too often focus on middle and high schools at the expense of elementary schools.

He said schools need to take security audits and find where improvements need to be made, and then implement them at all levels.

"Unfortunately the plans are only as good as the training and implementation of the plan," Lavarello told WPTV. "Once that's done, that's where we see the biggest gaps."