A Meaningful Discussion about School Security
By Raymond Marciano, CPP
After much of the shock, anger, and outrage has passed following the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook School; I believe it is time to take an apolitical look at making real and lasting improvements to school security. Now is the time for a meaningful discussion on school security addressing only one topic, securing our schools. This article will merely scratch the surface of the many approaches to securing our schools and protecting our children, the answers are complex and require in-depth research, planning, and review.
The first problem is that most school buildings are not designed with security in mind from the beginning. Many of our schools are located in older buildings that have been subject to multiple physical expansions in response to student population growth. This leaves us with difficult to manage security in labyrinthine buildings. The second problem is budgeting. When schools spend money on expansion or renovation there is generally small budgetary allocated for needed security. The primary focus is, as it should be, on education, sports, and arts facilities leaving little room for the expense of security systems and fixtures. However, administrators do not ignore the need for an increased budgetary security allocation.
Security can be expensive; however when we don’t take an in-depth look at security throughout the design process the cost increases by a factor of three to four. Some of these solutions will require physical renovations, some require electronic security fixtures, and some require additional staffing. Sometimes implementation will require all of the above, however this is the road to achieving effective school security. Schools and school districts should assess their risks and vulnerabilities; then plan improvements to correct vulnerabilities. Administrators should consider phasing in improvements to allow for funding, and procurement lead times. However, Phase 1 (assessment and planning) should begin immediately.
Employing security design concepts, when opportunities for renovation or new construction exist, can greatly reduce an aggressor’s capability. Even relatively small changes and additions to school infrastructure can improve the security environment. Concepts such as “Defensible Space” and “Natural Access Control” when designing new facilities or renovating existing facilities can greatly reduce an aggressor’s ability to access the campus. If we designed the main office area, from which access to the campus is granted, to allow segregation from the student population while enabling direct engagement and vetting of visitors; we gain the ability to identify threats early with the lowest threat exposure, thus enabling us to take appropriate steps to reduce danger. The reception area then becomes the front line of the school security battle. Additionally, by providing for lockdown zones that extend beyond classrooms and into hallways and wings we can achieve a more effective and efficient lock down and evacuation. This method would also restrict the aggressor’s freedom of movement stripping him of his ability to freely wander hallways, and reducing the time it takes for police to locate and eliminate threats.
Integrating these design concepts along with other physical and operational controls will enhance school security, provide tangible improvements to our children’s safety, and hopefully prevent the most serious and terrifying threats imaginable.
Behavior indicators that you should pay attention to. IS an employee/coworker/manager showing these signs?
- Refuses to cooperate with immediate supervisor
- Spreads rumors and gossip to harm others
- Argues with co-workers frequently
- Is short-tempered with clients or customers
- Yelling on the phone or behind closed doors
- Shows signs of drug or alcohol abuse
- Speech is full of swear words
- Makes unwanted and inappropriate sexual comments
- Negative changes in behavior, performance, appearance, attendance
- Difficulty coping with major life change such as: fired, layed off, passed over for promotion, poor performance review, reorganization or uncertain job security, personal court or bank actions (foreclosure, restraining order, custody hearing, etc.), failed romance or marriage, death in family.
No single sign is a sure indicator of potential workplace violence. However, an individual displaying one or more of these indicators may need help. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and management/coworker support can lead to a safer workplace, and better performance.
Three steps to surviving an active shooter incident.
An active shooter is a terrifying event that has dominated our concerns in light of recent incidents in Colorado and Wisconsin. What do you do when confronted with a madman on a mission. There are three things you can do… Run – Hide – Fight!!!
Run – if there is a way out, get out.
- Once you are outside, place an obstacle like a building or large truck between you and the shooter.
- Warn others not to enter the area, call the police.
- Do not interfere with responding police officers; they are also on a mission… Stop the shooter.
Hide – If you cannot escape safely, look for a place to hide.
- Closets, Offices, Copy rooms, Break rooms make good hiding places. Try to find a place with a door, the heavier the door the better.
- Lock and block doors, cover and stay away from windows.
- Remain quiet.
Fight – When directly or imminently confronted by the shooter the best resort is to attack and fight for your life!
- Look for weapons such as fire extinguishers and chairs; anything that can give you an advantage.
- Remember that once you decide to fight, commit. Do not hesitate, do not relent, this is your life.
For information on how to prevent and respond to active shooters and other workplace violence incidents, contact us.
What is the impact of a lack of disaster planning on shareholders of public companies?
First, lack of planning ensures that a disaster will have worse effects than it should, plants will shut down longer, personnel injuries lead to litigation. An organization can often avert or reduce serious liability by planning and demonstrating that it took necessary steps to prevent and prepare for emergencies. In addition, lack of planning affects the organization’s ability to control information and maintain truthful and effective information dissemination. If information is controlled and disseminated strategically, ensuring that truthful and accurate information reaches the public. Poor information operations are a sign of ineffective leadership, further shaking investor confidence. All of these factors shake shareholder confidence and have deep implications in the overall security of the organization. If a major disaster affects a public traded company and shareholders are not confident in the company’s ability to recover quickly, they will sell stock. If too much stock sells off, the company’s stock value drops. Devalued stock affects the company’s value; it also affects employee retirement plans and the company’s ability to raise revenue for rebuilding and recovering from the disaster.
You can reduce your exposure.
Risks addressed when developing protection plans and strategies fall into two categories, natural and man-caused. Another area that should factor into any assessment are multiple risks, these risks result from preceding risks. For example, after a hurricane or other natural disaster there is an increased risk of violent criminal activity and looting. Examples of this occurred following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Another example of this is the possibility of mudslides following a Seismic event or flooding that follows a late winter blizzard.
Natural Risks are those that generally occur regardless of human action to prevent or promote them. These “acts of nature” usually are not preventable; however, their effects can be mitigated. Many events fall into this category including; tornado, hurricane, earthquake, volcano, flooding, drought, blizzards and ice storms, solar events, and avalanches to name a few. Pandemics are a newer natural threat, new only because man’s ability and propensity towards globalization has made the threat of a disease’ ability to spread more dangerous, rapid and effective.
Man Caused Risks
Man Caused Risks can come in many forms, some are strictly intentional and others can be inadvertent. Examples of accidental risks are vehicle accidents, hazardous material releases, structural failures, railway accidents, air traffic accidents. Characterization is more complex when a natural disaster impacts a man made facility and human action compounds the incident. The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan led to the disaster at a Japanese nuclear power plant. This is an example of a multiple risk event mentioned at the beginning of this paper. Was it a man caused or natural event? This is an interesting aside, mentioned to illustrate the complexity of the argument. Also, consider how an insurance company might react to an insured event propagated by an uninsured event.
Intentional Man Caused Risks are usually either criminal or terrorist acts that affect personal, business, and/or government operations. These risks often take on the greatest emphasis because they are the most preventable. Examples of these risks are robberies and thefts of physical or intellectual property, workplace violence up to and including active shooter instances, flash mobs and other civil unrest, kidnapping, and terrorist attacks. Terrorist attacks usually fall into their own category due to the complexities involved however; they are at their base, a criminal act. Often the same techniques used to avert other criminal acts can be affective against terrorists. Terrorist attacks include explosive attacks, kidnapping, arson, sniping, chemical, biological, radiological, and cyber attacks.
Assessing risks requires time, detail, information, and multidisciplinary knowledge. Risk assessments are best approached with a multi-disciplinary team of specialists. However, when this is not possible the risk management professional should do his best to ensure a comprehensive report that serves as a tool for executive decision-making and ensure that the decision makers understand where the information gaps lie. Only then can executives feel confident that they are making the best decisions to protect assets.
Very few businesses have a lawyer or an accountant on staff, but
most small businesses need one. The problem is solved by hiring
one only for the times and functions you need them for. Similarly,
small and medium sized businesses require security
management but not on a full time basis. In these cases it is helpful
to have a security professional who is a phone call or email away.
Consider the same approach for security that you use for financial
and legal services.
Marciano Security Management Solutions provides your security
management at an affordable price. At MS2, we care about your
business Let us manage your security so you can manage your
business with the confidence that a solid security foundation
We are a Security Consulting Company providing World Class solutions to businesses. We specialize in small business solutions in the Arkansas River Valley and Northwest Arkansas, that are scaled to fit the individual client’s needs.
So why do you need a Security Consultant? As a security professional with almost 30 years in the business, I can show you how to protect your business effectively, efficiently, and economically. At Marciano Security Management Solutions we bring together a team of professionals that are capable of designing your security system and more importantly designing your business’ physical environment to shrink your security needs. The earlier we get involved the more you save and the better your protection.
So, if you have a small business in the Fort Smith area, Northwest Arkansas, Eastern Oklahoma or anywhere else in the region call us and we will help.
We will use this blog to inform you of the latest security related information that affects your business. We look forward to seeing you on the blog and helping you with your security needs.