School Access Control Safety Tips

School Access Control Safety Tips
on September 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

School Access Control Safety Tips

Posted by Jason Cassel

Dec 4, 2013 11:30:00 PM

schoolchildren_teachers_classroomRecent tragedies have magnified the threat of school violence in the minds of   students, parents, and educators. Unfortunately, the reactionary response is to   purchase trendy equipment in an attempt to upgrade security. Before spending   valuable school funds, however, it is crucial to take a more thorough approach.   In fact, since the primary purpose of schools is to teach, why not make educated   decisions? Here are 10 areas to consider in effectively reducing the risk to school security:

1.   Management

Schools today are very good at   managing “safety” programs. For emergencies, like fire and natural disasters,   schools have well-developed plans. These plans include actions to be taken by   students and staff. The actions include clearly defined roles and procedures   that are both documented in formal written plans and practiced regularly.

Unfortunately, many schools lack this same level of preparation when it   comes to the security. The cornerstone of a good security program is a   comprehensive security plan. This plan should be a living document detailing   current assets, threats, hardware, procedures, etc. Teachers, staff, and   administrators should be familiar with the contents and understand their   specific roles and responsibilities. Finally, management of the plan should be well-defined. Those in responsibility must be held accountable for its   effectiveness.

2. Assets

All   security programs are developed for the same purpose: the protection of assets.   Not all programs, though, are protecting the same assets. Those developing a   security plan must ask and answer the question: “What is the program going to   protect?” Assets can take many forms, ranging from people to facilities to   information. Assets should be identified and prioritized. When drafting and   prioritizing the asset list, it is important to get the input of everyone   affected by and involved in the security program.

3.   Threats

Just as assets are listed and   prioritized, threats to those assets must also be. Threats are defined as the   people that the security program must protect against. Additionally, threats can   be either internal or external. Examples of school threats include students,   staff, disgruntled family members and community offenders.

Once identified, threats must be accurately described. Such a description should   include the number of people acting together to commit the act, the behaviors   and characteristics of the people, and the degree of the threat. Schools can use   many different sources of information to develop threat descriptions.   Demographic data can predict threat levels. School incident logs provide   historical data and patterns. Police registrations can identify potential   community threats. The information from these and other sources should be   collected and used to build the threat list.

4.   Deterrence

Deterrence is one of the most basic   elements of a security program. The goal of the deterrence is to keep a security   incident from being attempted. The key to deterrence is high visibility. Signs   can draw attention to security features and policies. Effective lighting can   eliminate dark areas and shadows that serve as hiding places. Well-marked guards   and escorts can make people on the school grounds more difficult and/or less   attractive targets. In short, if your school makes aspects of its security   program very visible, certain threats will choose to go   elsewhere.

5.   Detection

Detection is the first of three   components of a security system. Delay and response are the other two   components, but are dependent on detection occurring first. Successful detection   requires two steps. First, a sensor must signal that a security incident has   occurred and send an alarm. Second, someone must identify and assess the cause   of the alarm. For example, a door sensor will send an alarm when a door is   opened.

Assessment may be achieved by an on-site respondent or remotely   via CCTV. In some cases, sensing and assessment may be performed by the same   element. For example, a staff member may observe a trespasser (sensing) and use   a two-way radio to report the incident (assessment).
Security systems are   designed to operate in two modes. Generally, the first mode is during daytime   when facilities are open, and the second mode is during nighttime when   facilities are closed. Even though the security system uses different methods in   different modes, the system must maintain a balanced profile.

6.   Delay

Delay in a school is not simply about   locks and doors, but about the door itself and other surfaces adjacent to the   door. Doors include hinges, glazing, and the basic construction. For interior   doors, a basic need is to list all of the doors in the school by room number.   Next, determine the use for the room. Finally, list room function. Obviously,   the computer lab is a more attractive target for theft than the typical   classroom. For daytime use, a simple door bolt on the door will allow the   teacher to quickly secure the room from the inside to prevent a series of   violent acts from progressing unimpeded from room to room.

7.   Response

Response is based on a security person   arriving at an incident on campus in a timely manner. As a general rule, the   first responder must act within two minutes or fewer from the time an alarm is   reported. The local law enforcement agency is typically 15 minutes away from   responding. Obviously, the campus security has to be ready to respond quickly.   Important questions that involve policy, procedures and training include: What   are the security persons trained and equipped to do? Do they use physical force   to restrain or interrupt altercations? Are they armed and can they use deadly   force to protect themselves, students and faculty? Liaison on a regular basis is   important so that police know of the current status of facilities, enrollment   and incidents.

8.   Mitigation

Mitigation involves actions after an   incident has occurred or during an incident of long duration, such as a hostage   situation. The long duration incident usually makes use of either an improvised   or fixed emergency management center. Those in charge must have familiarity with   the facility and surrounding area. Current facility maps and floor plans   depicting doors, windows, etc. should be on hand. Other important information   that should be noted includes stairwells, lighting panels, telephones (including   their numbers), fire panels, HVAC controls, gas lines, etc. A simple, “walk   through” videotape recording hallways, doors and office information should also   be available to provide cognitive orientation. This information should be   readily accessible at an alternate location.

9. Briefings and Drills

Regular awareness training, briefings and drills for students, staff and PTL help correct problems before an incident   occurs. Security awareness should be as much a part of contemporary school life   as are “D.A.R.E” programs. Signage in school hallways should serve as action   reminders when strangers, unlocked doors, etc. are found. Prompt notification of   trained security personnel will address issues and may deter or prevent a more   serious incident. Practicing security drills is as important as practicing fire   drills – both are emergencies. Staff and students should know the difference in   their roles.

10. Risk Prioritization

Schools are bound by budgets.   Funds must, therefore, be wisely used to “balance” security and, thus, risk.  Risk is directly proportional to the threat. A school without risk is   unobtainable and unaffordable. As risk is balanced across school facilities, it   must also be balanced across a district or geographical area. Additionally, it   should be taken into account that demographics and situations change regularly.

Risk is reduced not just with gadgets and guards but with a disciplined   program of management-deterrence-detection-delay-response-mitigation that is   measured, tested and drilled. Funding should be prioritized and allocated so   that the individual school or district improves uniformly from poor to fair to   good to excellent – just like a remedial program for a student that has “fallen   behind.”

A thoughtful consideration of the 10 areas described above is   foundational in addressing school security. There is no way to overestimate the   value of providing children with a safe learning environment. Detecting,   correcting and protecting is, indeed, an important assignment.

 © 2014 Millennium Group,  Inc.

Share This Post