Safety and security in school is a must. It’s also achievable with the right approaches and resources. Preparing for a critical safety incident, such as an active shooter, requires tools to minimize the damage, catch the perpetrator quickly, and save lives. The threat to schools across the country is alive and not going away. This environment must be prepared for the worst and have security measures that prevent someone from entering the premises illegally with bad intentions.
Here is how to protect our schools, outlining the latest weapon detection technology and data-backed security protocols.
1. Lock All The Doors
Secure a school by having impenetrable doors that lock. Multiple active shooter incidents have played out inside schools where shooters avoid entering areas with locked doors. If a door is locked, it also requires more time to break open, slowing down the unfolding damage. Therefore, all classroom and building doors should be secured and locked regularly.
2. Weapon Detection Technology
Weapon detection technology means you don’t need to line security personnel at every entrance. With school security solutions and protocols, individuals carrying weapons can be silently identified. Also, the proper personnel on-site or off-site can be notified. Simply put, this can catch someone trying to sneak a knife, gun, or similar weapon onto school premises, minimizing the chance that this weapon gets used.
3. Train Staff For Patrols
Staff should know the risks and responsibilities of creating a secure school environment. Have staff conduct regular and visible patrols. It may be preferred to do this in pairs so that if someone unknown or suspicious is found, they can be confronted, questioned, and assertively handled. Patrols let intruders know that someone is watching and that the property has security protocols.
4. Monitor Entryways
Entryways should be closely monitored. Restrict access surrounding the school with inside locks on non-entryway doors, forcing individuals to use primary entrances. Having a staff monitor who’s coming in and going out is important. They can monitor for adults, too, asking for identification or questioning why they’ve entered the building. All visitors should sign in at the main office.
5. Access Control Cards
Though not widely adopted, many schools are considering limiting access control by using cards or fobs. These can be used to swipe to gain entrance to the school or use turnstiles and double to take attendance. Access control cards are more common in high schools among students but can be used by teachers in any school during periods when the doors are locked.
6. Video Surveillance Outdoors
Having CCTV or video surveillance outdoors can be incredibly helpful in identifying individuals as they approach the school. This can also be helpful to install in parking lots or similar areas surrounding the school. This footage can be redirected in real-time to police and used to help slow down or identify an active shooter before the situation worsens.
7. Add Fencing and Layout Planning
An active shooter has only minutes to do what they came to do before the police arrive. When you slow them down, you save lives. An easy protection method is to install fencing along the perimeter. Also, layout planning, such as adding drop-arm barriers in parking lots, architecture that someone would have to walk around or in between, and similar features can slow someone down. Even if it only slows them down by fifteen seconds, that can still equate to lives saved.
8. Security Lighting
Ensure poorly lit areas have lighting. Install security lighting outdoors to provide a visual at night. During winter, some days can be excessively dark. With security lighting, you provide visibility and remove hiding spots around the school. Along footpaths, playgrounds, car parks, and other areas is where to focus on. You may want to pair this lighting with CCTV implementation.
9. Have a Response Plan
If the worst happens and there’s an active shooter on campus, a school must have a plan, and staff must know what it is. Define what that plan is and how a threat is to be handled. A lockdown protocol should be initiated, for example, shutting all doors and putting students and staff in the safest possible locations within reach. Run through the plan. Time the plan. Evaluate it for improvements.
10. Set Up an Anonymous Reporting System
Provide staff and students with a way to report suspicious behaviour or if they see something that compromises security. It could be as simple as an anonymous text line. This allows anyone to communicate without necessarily being outed as the one who did it, such as if a student feels they are turning their back on a friend by reporting them.
11. Get A Threat Assessment Done
Security services offer threat assessments and security evaluations. Have it done for a school to outline strengths and weaknesses that can be used to further maximize security? There are several ways for active shooters or intruders to exploit security loopholes. It’s key to be aware of those and how to reduce the likelihood of a critical incident.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.