PatMurphy active shooter, Crime Analysis, Negligent Security, Public Speaking and Security Training, School security, Security Assessments, Security Expert Witness, Security Guards, Security Management, Uncategorized, Workplace violence expert witness
Armed School Teachers
Is it a disaster waiting to happen or a Godsend? It depends. Here are my recommendations for this type of armed response in schools:
- Before there is a decision as to the path to take, make certain legal counsel is on board day one.
- What standards are going to be used to develop the hiring, training, and supervision as well as policy and procedures? There are no industry standards for this approach. The “standard” will be whatever the school district adopts unless standards are established through the government. That means your school district and its employees fully own the program. Liability for friendly fire, inadequate response, over response, failure to properly deploy, failure to adequately vet, train, and supervise need to be fully understood. A school teacher with a gun does not get a free pass if they shoot a student.
- Should all volunteers just be allowed to participate? This is a standard that needs establishment. Are the volunteers mentally and emotionally able to take another person’s life? Are they able to disregard their personal safety (as a trained teacher)? Can they focus? These questions will need to be assessed by professionals. Law Enforcement mentality is needed.
- What will be the standard firearms(s). Will there be matching firepower against an AR 15 or AK 47? Which handgun will they need to qualify with. Yes, they will have to qualify and re-certify.
- So you have them selected, vetted, and range-qualified. Now what? Drills of course. How much time and money is the school district willing to spend to constantly train BOTH the school and the teacher? This is clearly not a one and done. Are they working on force suppression or counter attack? How do they communicate internally and with law enforcement? Who’s in charge?
- Is the team “on duty” from the time the first student arrives until the lights go out? What about sporting events, plays, concerts?
- How does the security team identify themselves during the chaos? Do they wear a red armband or are they wearing ballistic vests with SECURITY emblazoned across them? If they are the quick reaction team, should they then be wearing their gear all the time?
- Is every school administrator on board…under penalty of termination if not. Where is the stick for the carrot? What information will your PTO want? How will the media be handled>
- Who has oversight? Who is going to be accountable (not responsible) for ensuring the plans meet the standards?
This is far more complex than the issues I have raised. Sure there are schools in the country that have armed teachers. Are they the good ol’ boys who are huntin’ buddies or are they a cohesive team? Just wearing a gun will never be enough.
The last consideration I want to mention is that most schools have open campuses. Doors aren’t locked or they are propped open to facilitate kids and teachers moving around campus. The buildings are porous, the office can’t see those who enter, and the perimeter is nothing more than a sidewalk. Should there be capital spent on an integrated security camera system and card access system? There must be a deterrent level, a detection level, and a denial level. Once the bad guy is in the building the role is to save remaining lives. How many will be killed before an effective response? The security planning aspect must fully compliment the desired end results. That will require hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Time and money. That’s all this requires…right? No. This requires so much planning and preparation that there is one thing that must be top of mind: Once you start this, you can never discontinue it.
I’ve been in the security and law enforcement arena since 1975. I have designed active shooter programs from the planning and analysis side. I have an encyclopedia of knowledge related to security liability. Even the thought of undertaking this approach is mind-numbing as the requirements and commitment is greater than anything a school will do. This is clearly not for a dusty 3 ringed binder.
The above is not intended to provide legal advice. It is intended to broaden the understanding and complexity of the planning considerations. There are no standards. Consult with both civilian and law enforcement advisors and don’t leave out the attorneys.
We are experts in creating crime analysis data and maps for use in litigation or for security assessments. We take the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data developed by local law enforcement and turn a glut of data into clear and understandable demonstratives.
If you are an attorney or expert who wants data from the Houston Police Department or Dallas Police Department: We already have it. We maintain a database of ever-growing UCR crime down to the address level and it’s updated every six months. What this means is that we can assist attorneys “pre-qualify” certain cases by providing data for the property itself and crime data for your required radius. We can also provide analysis for security experts and security consultants.
All law enforcement jurisdictions maintain crime data but our experience has not been 100% in obtaining police department records. If we can get the data, we can build the exhibits.
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We are in an era where video cameras are in a wild assortment of shapes and sizes. The “spy camera” industry has just exploded in the past 5 years and the proliferation of adult web sites that cater to hidden camera video has been more than exponential. With that said, the natural question is why aren’t there more news stories on this? Many are planted. Few are caught.
Today, you can buy a color camera with good resolution for about $75.00. These are just not cameras. They also have a built-in battery and an SD card. Going further, the chip is programmable in a number of ways with the most frequent setting being motion-recording only. Motion-only recording triggers the camera to record when it detects motion and stop once the motion stops for a period of time. By doing that, a complete unit is no bigger than your thumb and can record hours of video.
Another threat is just the common cell phone. In unisex fitting rooms, the dividing wall does not always go to the floor and to the ceiling. There is no standard design for fitting rooms so we all have different experiences. A male who is in the stall next to a female can easily peer over or under the wall to record. With the new selfie-sticks, the range of reach could potentially overcome even high walls.
As a security expert witness, I have been involved in several hidden camera cases in both restrooms and fitting rooms. The cases involve all types of cameras, including ones that are wi-fi supported. Negligent security cases are often filed in these circumstances especially when a plaintiff learns their images have been uploaded to the internet. The Erin Andrews case is an excellent example of the use of a cell phone to secretly record someone.
Be very aware of your surroundings but also understand that these cameras can be disguised as almost anything from a smoke detector to a working electrical outlet.
PatMurphy Apartment Security, Apartment Security Crime Prevention, Background checks, Crime Analysis, Negligent Security, Security Assessments, Security Expert Witness, Security Guards, Security Management
A claim of inadequate security or negligent security at an apartment property is very common. The Texas Apartment Association (TAA) offers a Texas Crime Awareness Guide (link is at the bottom of the page) that can assist any property owner or manager develop crime prevention programs.
Apartment security is a very difficult topic for managers. The phrase: “We don’t provide security” is, in my opinion, very misunderstood and does not play well in court. Of course you don’t provide security, that is, if the definition of security is one that even infers a high level of personal safety. Even the president is not guaranteed that. However, if violent crime is occurring on your property and in the area then doing nothing is a different definition.
Tenants should be provided reasonable security. What a court may deem as “reasonable” is really a question of how the property addressed criminal activity over time. That is a pretty broad brush because the options within that are plentiful. The best crime awareness (and it’s free) is to advise tenants of crime, especially violent crime. This information allows the residents to be very aware of their surroundings in a way they may have done in the past.
Read the Texas Apartment Association’s Crime Awareness Guide! It’s full of great ideas.
A recent news story gives insight, as well as great video, into the little known crime of cargo theft. (www.nbcdfw.com/investigations/DFW-Leads-Nation-In-Cargo-Theft.html)
Cargo theft in the north Texas regions is fueled by DFW Airport and the massive hubs of freight lines in the area. The trucks also feed company warehouses which is another favorite target of bad guys looking for a huge haul. The thefts are as well planned and executed as a Navy Seal raid. Not only do they employ surveillance of a target, they stay at the hotels of truckers and mingle to obtain intelligence. They’ll follow a load across the country and hit it when it is the most vulnerable. All done under the watchful eye of security cameras.
Warehouse alarm systems, as are all hardwired systems, are connected through phone lines to a central station. Cut the phone lines and the alarm company has no more connectivity. With the advent of cellular back up alarms, cutting phone lines is no longer effective. Of course for every security improvement, there is a modified attack to counter them. Now the bad guys can use cell phone jammers to kill that signal.
We all pay a premium on goods we buy due to theft. Security Experts in Texas can educate businesses on the most effective means of protecting their inventory. However, we are always just one step behind the latest workaround for our efforts.