The challenges of keeping students and faculty safe in today’s environment are substantial. From Columbine to Sandy Hook and everything in between, we now know the rules of the game have changed forever. As security professionals we understand that security programs must not ignore the primary mission of any school, the education of students. Onerous security programs have the potential I to interfere with that process. We also know that not all security threats are external. Internal threats such as bullying and sexual predation are also issues that must be addressed proactively by an effective school safety and security program.

The primary objective of any school safety program is to prevent security breaches. The second objective is to minimize those security breaches that do occur. Clearly the application of CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) is most important for the school environment. The threats to students are both internal and external and the security/safety program must address all potential threats. Along with CPTED, video analytics provides a cost efficient option to put in the school security toolbag.

The application of safety and security models and applied to both private and public schools, cannot be defined by universal solutions. The goals may be universal, but the means by which to meet these goals must be situationally determined. For example, no two schools have the exactly same threat environment. This means that the resultant security program must be situationally determined.

The remedies that are applied must be determined on the basis of need. The only effective to determine security needs, is to conduct a thorough, and system wide security assessment. Lacking a comprehensive, system wide security review, many needs may go by the wayside causing the security program to come up short.

In almost every case of school violence that periodically dominates the national media we find significant deficiencies and inadequate protocols for the prevention of these episodes. Early warnings are either not seen or consciously ignored. Proactive prevention measures are often nonexistent. As a result, as noted by our security experts, our children and education professionals often become the victims of school violence. And the money that should be going towards educating our children is lost on costly lawsuits. A security assessment before-the-fact is much more effective than an assessment in the wake of a major security breach.

William H. Nesbitt, CPP, Certified CPTED Practitioner, the President of SMSI Inc., is a seasoned school security expert with more than 35 years of diverse experience. He has been retained as a Security Expert Witness in more than 650 lawsuits, in 46 states, including school district cases. This litigation experience is, and continues to be, instructive by enabling SMSI Inc. to better evaluate the threat environment and to craft effective mitigation strategies.

The application of effective mitigation strategies requires synergy. This means determining the proper mix between the use traditional physical security such as lock, barriers and access management, and current security technology, security personnel, and most importantly, effective staff education. There is no one effective solution.

Over the last several years you will note that rural, suburban and urban schools have all experienced headline grabbing episodes of violence. Therefore, there must be symbiosis between behavior modification techniques and the wide range of potential remedies. Our school security experts’ would like to point out that security incidents that erupt in middle school or high schools often have their etiology in K through 6. Early intervention results in prevention. Behavioral techniques such as teacher training and peer intervention must be integrated, when appropriate, with more traditional security methodologies as well as coordination with local law enforcement.

Aside from the tragedy caused by school related violence, the cost of prevention is three to four times less than the cost of reacting to a major security breach. Until recently the public school systems have significantly lagged behind the private sector when it comes to effective prevention of violence and the development of cost effective security programs. SMSI’s school security experts will close the gap. SMSI will ensure that the special sensitivities and milieu of the public schools are maintained while at the same time providing a safe environment for our children.

Call or email today, speak to a member of our school security expert team and ask for a proposal.

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