After the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, it is very important for schools to examine the effectiveness of their security measures.
Educational organizations should begin with a security threat assessment to determine whether improvements can be made to the physical plant or to the policies and procedures. APEI offers a School Safety and Security Checklist that will help evaluate the safety and security of your school.
Access control and communication are two of the most important elements in school protection. Many schools restrict entry into buildings to a single point of entry. This is one way to manage your visitors. Having a visitor sign-in sheet is a great way to meet them as they walk through the front door.
Effective communication is also critical. This can be accomplished with public address systems and/or two-way radios. Video cameras are also a security good measure. In addition, administrators can improve safety by establishing an emergency plan and conducting drills with teachers, staff, and students that cover a variety of scenarios. Incorporating local law enforcement into your drills is also important. Training is the glue that holds emergency plans together, because properly trained staff and students are less prone to panic.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management offers suggestions to help prevent violence in your educational workplace:
- Drill all employees at least once a year on safety procedures.
- Employees who are responsible for communication of the plan to police and to the employees should drill at least three times a year.
- Incorporate the safety training as part of new employee orientation.
- Instruct employees on how they should communicate during an emergency to non-employees about protecting themselves.
- Make certain that employees know that they should not confront a person who is armed and dangerous.
- Make certain that employees understand that they should report all suspicious activities, including all threats of violence.
- Instruct employees how to report violence to the police including providing information on their location, the location of the perpetrator, if known, and entrances to the building.