Video surveillance cameras, police or security guards on campus and alarmed doors are all fairly common on K-12 campuses. Here’s my take on how effective they can be.
In a survey completed last fall of 400 K-12 teachers, almost 60 percent said they have video surveillance cameras at their school. That’s good, but it also means more than 40 percent of campuses still haven’t added cameras. I believe camera systems can be a very effective deterrent to crime, as well as help in solving crimes that occur.
Cameras provide extra sets of “eyes” that can monitor parking lots, hallways, stairwells, lunchrooms, offices, and many other areas on a campus. Video intercoms are particularly useful on an elementary school campus, where it is easier to limit public access to a single entrance/exit. These intercoms let visitors ring a bell to speak to someone in the office. There, a school employee can talk to and also see the visitor before granting access through an electronically locked gate.
Security guards are helpful because their presence can act as a deterrent to a would-be criminal. Guards are a tremendous asset at special events such as a high school football or basketball game or a middle school or high school dance. But guards lack the high degree of training and experience offered by a sworn police officer.
Every school should have a dedicated school resource officer–an officer from the local law enforcement agency. That officer should be assigned to the campus during regular class hours. If your school doesn’t have an SRO, I recommend working closely with your law enforcement officials to get one. During a campus emergency, a trained officer can help to save lives.
Burglar alarms are a must for every campus. Without a monitored alarm on each exterior door and window you are practically inviting thieves to help themselves to computers, audio-visual equipment, and other value items.
All of this equipment and personnel work best together to help make your campus more safe and secure.
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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