• Make security a top priority. Pay attention to the best practices, policies, and procedures in place on other campuses.
• Build strong relationships with your local law enforcement officials. If your school does not have a regularly assigned officer, ask the supervisors at the local police or sheriff’s office to make an assignment. Then work closely with the officer to help familiarize staff and students with emergency and security drills.
• Encourage parents to get involved in their children’s safety. Help them to promote an open environment in which the kids feel comfortable talking about their fears and learn how to resolve conflict without violence. And remind them that if they have firearms at home, to keep them properly locked, stored, and accounted for.
• Students, more than any other group, know what’s really happening on a campus. So get them proactively involved in their own safety. One option is to start a hotline that they can call to anonymously report suspicious activities.
• Know exactly who is on your campus. Have all visitors and vendors check into the office and show identification. There are visitor management systems that tie directly into computers at the federal Department of Justice that can quickly identify registered sex offenders and others with criminal records.
• Look for ways to finance security measures. Unfortunately, properly securing a campus is not inexpensive. It may require reallocating budgets to include surveillance cameras, access control, and other measures. However, there are a number of grants available to help pay for security upgrades. Check the web sites of the U.S. Department of Education and your own state’s department to get more information.
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
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