Security Technology Executive

JUL-AUG 2018

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www. • July/August 2018 • SECURIT Y TECHNOLOGY E XECUTIVE 19 officer". School-based mental health pro- fessionals advocate for students. They attempt to foster partnerships with par- ents, teachers and community mental health professionals. From identifying at-risk behavior on the prevention side to providing support services on the recovery side, these individuals stand in a strategic place. Where security products and systems are concerned, invest in communications and access control. Communication sys- tems act as lifelines. Public Address (PA), intercom, telephone, two-way radio, and duress systems should never be anything less than excellent. Tolerate something less than excellent and Murphy 's Law will find you. Access control measures determine the safety of pathways and areas. Make strategic decisions regarding topics such as electronic access, closed campus, single point of entry, secured vestibules, and visitor management soft- ware. Schools must be able to account for who is in their buildings, who is no longer in their buildings and the where- abouts of those individuals. What to Avoid? In the aftermath of each school tragedy, the desperation to address the problem builds. People want answers. How could this happen? They want justice. Who is culpable and how will punishment be exacted? They want solutions. What will stop this from happening again? Michele Gay, who lost a daughter in the Sandy Hook tragedy, chose to proceed down a redemptive path by co-founding Safe and Sound Schools. When asked to identify specific solutions, she responded and magic wand fixes should be avoid- ed? Where politics are concerned, we'll attempt to answer two queries. Which government efforts have been success- ful? Which government actions have been of little value? Where to Invest? Time and money are precious commodi- ties. Effective school safety initiatives often seem to require too much of the former without enough supply of the latter. Effective school security requires a collaborative approach. No single per- son has shoulders broad enough to carry the safety program. Establish a Safety Planning Team made up of internal and external stakeholders. Include sup- port staff, teachers, facilities personnel, emergency responders, students, parents, etc. Remember that the most important stakeholder group is students. They are, and will always be, ahead of adults in technology and in measuring the pulse of school threats. Invest in people in such a way that encourages them to invest in a safe learn- ing environment. Remind teachers and staff to foster healthy, trusting relation- ships with students. Provide awareness training and promote a "See Something , Say Something" culture. Educate employ- ees on security measures. People deter- mine the value of your products and systems. Hold employees accountable for safety practices. Compromises such as lax visitor management, door propping and poor exterior activity monitoring can result in grave consequences. Con- duct emergency preparedness drills and exercises that equip and incrementally challenge staff, students and organiza- tions that utilize facilities after-hours. Find ways to fund, or continue to fund, School Resource Officers (SROs) and school-based mental health pro- fessionals. An effective SRO connects with students, provides resources to teachers and staff, assists administra- tors with problem-solving , and protects against crime. The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) asserts that SROs serve in three ways, "educator (i.e. guest lecturer), informal counselor/mentor, and law enforcement by stating , "The call for meaningful change in the wake of recent tragedies seems to be stronger than ever. Though, what form that change should take is still an outstanding question." Gay 's note of caution does not stem from a small frame of reference regard- ing potential solutions. She and her organization have been inundated with entrepreneurs looking for product endorsements. Kevin Wren, Director of Risk, Security and Emergency Manage- ment for the Rock Hill Schools is a for- mer Campus Safety Director of the Year. He agrees with Gay. Wren insists, "There is not a magic wand solution to school shootings. They are a human problem that cannot be solved by things." Unfortunately, some well-intentioned solutions inadvertently introduce signifi- cant risks. For example, school adminis- trators have actually approved placement of items, such as baseball bats, buckets of rocks and soup cans, in classrooms. They mistakenly believe that equipping the good guys to beat up the bad guy(s) is the only potential ramification of stockpiling weapons. At the very least, the accessibil- ity of these weapons immediately intro- duces potential risks such as equipping the bad guy and escalating the severity of student fights. The issue of classroom security has also paved the way for retrofit security devices, also known as barricades. The market for these devices is driven by door hardware concerns. Most class- room doors swing out into the hallway and most locking mechanisms secure from the outside. It is unsettling to think about a teacher stepping into the hallway to lock a classroom door during an act of violence. Barricade devices seek to alleviate the need to lock the door, but inadvertently introduce significant safety and security risks. They fail to consider fire code violations, special needs con- siderations and the aforementioned risk of individuals using them for malevolent purposes. The active shooter specter can warp perspective. People forget about fire safety and other potential egress issues. Schools, however, far more frequently experience fires than active shooter » Effective school security requires a collaborative approach. «

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