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Keeping Schools Secure

Excerpt from:
The security Week That Was: A Recap Feb. 15, 2008
by Geoff Kohl, editor,

School shootings: What can be done?

(Quoting: Patrick Fiel, former head of security at D.C.'s public schools and now a safety advisor with ADT Security Services.)

1. Limit access doors to campus buildings. Cut entrances to one or two points, make the other doors locked to the outside, but able to open freely for fire/life safety exits in order to comply with fire codes.

2. Add a badging/card access system for students to enter the building, and funnel them through limited access points.

3. Add an armed officer (private security or a law enforcement officer) who is superbly trained and able to respond to live shooter incidents. Fiel said he is seeing an increase in guard/officer presence at schools, but that it still needs to increase.

4. Train all potential responders on the ins/outs of the campus so they have resources to know which building is which, what entries are, etc.

5. Pull in your staff. It's not realistic, said Field, to expect a small police force that has to arrive to be the end-all of incident response. Staff/faculty are already there, and they need to be trained in lock-down/shelter-in-place and other response mechanisms.

6. Find the budget money. "'We don't have the budget' is a lame excuse," said Fiel. "These schools can always find the money after the incident; it's coming from the same resources that were there before an incident." Pull the community together to find the money.

7. Address emergency notification systems. Add a solution to the campus if one doesn't already exist and test the percentage of students/staff it can reach.

8. Create widespread school security standards. Right now security plans are often created at the individual school level, and there exists a great vacuum in terms of knowing what other schools are doing/should be doing.

9. Conduct preparedness/response drills. "I think schools are starting to go through the motions [of increasing security], but they're not doing the drills," he added.

10. Most importantly, though, said Fiel, "School administrators first have to get rid of the 'It won't happen here' mentality. It is happening."

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