You are a parent, spouse, school administrator or teacher. You are a first responder looking for an edge to reduce response time and save lives. You are human and just want to know what can be done.
There is a great deal being pushed out as news and advice on school shootings right now. This “right now” has gone on for many, many years. It seems as if no mass shooting is horrific enough move a common initiative into action. Here are the basic reasons why there is not a sea change to create improved “security”:
- No one wants to agree on what is a reasonable solution.
- A “reasonable solution” is one that is cheap.
- Cheap “solutions” are the bully pulpit of politicians, yet unless provisions favor their constituents, the solutions are somehow flawed.
- Control entrance and egress from the campus. This means there must be a true, hard, perimeter. Now the questions begin: is that a chain link fence or a cinder block wall? How tall is it? Won’t that detract from the core values of educators? Answers: The core values of educators is to advance the lives of students. The culture is from within and is not defined by a fence. Is it chain link: depends on the terrain. Is it 8 feet tall with barbed wire: maybe. Is cinder block the best: not in all cases.Sounds pretty wishy-washy, right? Each campus is different and there are no existing security “standards” to follow. Each must be assessed individually while, at the same time, adopting some common goals. The first goal is to know who is on your campus.
- Control entrances and egress by a staffed security position. That means a limted number of gates with manned positions. That means total control totally. Every day of school, every concert, play or open house, every sporting event would require a entrance system that accommodates the need. If your security is really effective during classes, you have succeeded in closing a single avenue. Criminals seek the weaknesses to gain an advantage. If there is no “security” during the third grade play, that is the time to strike.
- Monitor the campus through CCTV. Cameras are a force multiplier. One camera may be able to do the work of 5 or 10 people. However, cameras are useless in a high security environment without a human behind the console. I don’t recommend using them to review video after the fact when the stakes are this high. Technology is wonderful but it plays a supporting role. It’s not THE role.
- Lastly, lock the damn doors. Schools are full of doors most of which can be entered from the exterior. This is more of a human problem than a technology issue. Locked door? No problem, just prop it open. It’s just for a few minutes. Door security technology should be a part of the surveillance system. It’s complicated.
I had a security integrator (cameras, card access, parking lot) tell me they use $2500 per camera as a standard price to install. 30 cameras installed (small campus) with the current technology (nothing cutting edge) would be $70,000. Each door was priced at around $1500 per door. 100 doors = $150,000. So far about a quarter million dollars.
Fencing would be dependent on type and level of difficulty of installation. Security personnel. What are you willing to pay for your first line of defense? $15/hour, $20/hr…Those rates will earn you little in the way of decision making skills and customer service. Let’s plug in $500,000/year for human security, including benefits.
First year just to get a program started? $1M. Don’t forget the cost of training, writing policy and procedure, vetting applicants, etc.
Basic #1: MONEY. This is the one and only roadblock to any security program regardless of sector. The cost is exponential as the risk of harm increases. There are absolutely no guarantees but what will your wallet bear? The money has to come from someplace and that money is not just lying around. This is what everyone must consider. This is a huge commitment that will require executive expertise in security management. It is not a function for the schools themselves to monitor.