In the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting on Tuesday that left 19 children and two teachers dead, the country is left questioning what could have been done to prevent the tragedy.
Texas State Representative Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) spoke with The Dallas Express regarding the tragedy and some measures that schools could put in place to ensure the safety of students and staff.
Tinderholt emphasized that the primary focus should be on the families affected by the shooting, and people should not bring politics into the matter until more information is known.
“We need to be there for the families and let the investigation come out,” said Tinderholt. “To make this political before the investigation comes out is sickening. Democrats will stop at nothing to get their point across when a tragedy happens.”
He added, “It was a sick and deranged individual.”
Tinderholt has extensive military service and specializes in security. According to his website, “In his 21 years in the armed forces, Major (Ret.) Tinderholt toured across several continents, earning awards that include the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Action Badge.”
Tinderholt highlighted some existing rules intended to help create a safe environment.
As per the Texas Education Code 37.108, schools must perform a safety and security audit every three years. He said it takes everyone — parents, teachers, administrations, and local law enforcement — to keep the school safe.
With a strong standard operating procedure to guide a response to an emergency, Tinderholt believes schools will be better prepared for the worst.
“There are simple things school districts can do, but they cost money,” said Tinderholt. “Some standard operating procedures could include barriers for the front of the doors and intercom systems outside the building with video cameras that follow into the office to allow visibility.”
“[Schools] can fortify windows and doors with certain types of locks and glass protection. There are also amazing technological advances in camera systems that talk to security within the school. Also, implementing an automated system that will notify the whole school to an emergency as well as 911,” said Tinderholt.
Additionally, he suggests that implementing metal detectors and armed security, either a resource officer or highly trained armed security personnel, in schools increases safety.
Tinderholt emphasized, “We know the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. There is also value in putting a marked police car or marked security vehicle in front.”
Tinderholt used the Texas Capitol as an example.
“They [security] allow people who can legally carry a gun to enter the Capitol,” he said. “And there are barriers to keep vehicles from getting too close to the building, metal detectors at entry points, law enforcement present and visible, and security cameras. These measures are what keep the state Capitol as secure as it is. Schools should replicate something similar to that.”
According to the state representative, “Technology is not only a way to prevent [shootings], but it can mitigate them if it starts happening.”
One of the innovations Tinderholt mentioned was microphones that can detect gunfire in a school, alert the administration, and notify law enforcement of the exact location.
Tinderholt mentioned the enormous benefit of new technology. Although it can be costly, Tinderholt commented, “Can you place a dollar value on the life of a human being? You can’t weigh that.”
Furthermore, he said that technology is moving at such a rapid pace that costs are likely to decrease, which would allow schools to afford to do more to ensure safety.
Tinderholt also recommends that school districts engage in discussions about getting donations or a discounted price from security companies.
Tinderholt is the owner and operator of the private security company Tier One, which has specialized in campus security for the past four years.