It doesn’t surprise me that the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC) has an access control system in place that was used during last week’s shooting to lock down the campus with the press of one button.  As I wrote last summer after visiting more than a dozen campuses, colleges and universities have challenges which make it very difficult to secure their facilities without electrified hardware.  What IS surprising to me is the reaction of the media – it’s as if this is a new invention that nobody has thought about implementing before now.

Many news stories have reported on UNCC’s ability to lock down the campus in seconds.  While it is tragic that two lives were lost, it is also clear that there was no warning immediately prior to the shooting.  There was no way to know what the shooter had in mind or to manually lock doors – there was only time to react at that moment.  The notification went out immediately, the campus was locked down within seconds, some students elected to evacuate (“run”), some sheltered in place behind locked doors (“hide”), and at least one student had no other choice but to confront the gunman (“fight”).  Sadly, that student was killed, but his actions likely saved lives.

What has not been very clear in the news stories is that the locks used in UNCC’s access control system allow free egress at all times, as well as preventing unauthorized access when the doors are locked.  The locks do not deter or delay the building occupants’ from evacuating if that becomes a better option during an active-shooter incident.  As one story mentioned, the locks allow someone to open the door from the inside and let additional people into a secured room.  The locks do not detain or capture the shooter, but they can compartmentalize the campus and individual buildings to secure those spaces against unauthorized access.

Here is some of the media coverage related to the UNCC lockdown:

Emergency officials were able to lock down UNCC campus with one button – WRAL


Sources: Suspect charged with killing two, injuring four at UNC Charlotte made full confession – ABC7

“We also at the same time – simultaneously – secured the entire campus. We were able to lock it down through a system that we utilize and we can simply press one button and lock down the majority of campus,” said UNC Charlotte Police Chief Jeff Baker. “We were able to deploy all of the security systems that we have in place to notify the university that we did have an active shooter on campus at this time, urging the community to shelter in place immediately.”


Should All Schools Have A One-Button Lock Down System? – WFMY2


Howell And UNC Charlotte’s Quick Response During Shooting Praised – WFAE 90.7

“These shooters know the clock is ticking. They know that law enforcement’s coming. And, you know, when their main objective is to hurt as many people as possible, they don’t have time to spend trying to unlock a door or a barricade. They move on,” he said. “So if they check a door handle and the door is locked then the gunman is going to move on. And I use one statistic that, hands down, I love is the fact that no active shooter, no workplace violence involving a gun has a shooter, a man with a gun, ever breached a locked door.”  Kopp recommends the one touch lockdown systems like UNCC employed yesterday. They have become more common in the wake of recent mass shootings.


For more information about ‘one-touch’ lockdown, visit or contact us.

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