With gun violence at its peak in US history, school security procedures, and technology—or lack thereof—desperately need improvement. According to security experts, these are eight ways to enhance security in today’s schools in America.
Many schools have an easy-to-jump 6-ft or less fence and no other exterior barrier such as a concrete or brick wall, tall fence, or even barbed wire-lined fence. Fences and walls are the first layers of protection that most US schools lack today. They are a deterrent for intruders and should be more difficult to breach.
2. Install Access Control on All Entrances/Exits
Automatically-locking doors scratch the surface of the abilities of access control. Different kinds of access control can have the ability for facial recognition, swiping a card, entering a door code, palm recognition, iris recognition, and more. Paired with a security system like Ganz CORTROL , pre-programmed events (e.g., a perimeter breach) can trigger actions, including entrances and exits being opened, closed, locked, and unlocked from one central platform.
3. Install Gunshot/Gun Detection Devices
Although gunshots can be heard from a distance, not everyone on a school campus can listen to or is alerted when a gun is fired. Gunshot and gun detection technology can help alert everyone on campus by triggering a pre-programmed event, including sending out a text notification, automatically closing and locking all doors, and setting off an alarm and alarm lights. Gunshots and other wicked acoustic activity—raised voices, broken glass—can be efficiently detected, serving as a trigger point to unfold the emergency procedures.
4. Hire Trained School Resource Officer(s)
School Resource Officers (SRO) are selected, specially trained, and assigned to protect and serve the education environment. They can be the first form of protection from an active shooter and the first to initiate contact with first responders. In addition, they often play a significant role in emergency evacuations.
5. Install an Automatic Lockdown System
Most schools in America do not have a door system that can be monitored from a central platform, allowing the user(s) to remotely lock and unlock different access points or a system that enables the user to trigger an automatic event that locks down the entire school while simultaneously alerting students inside and outside the school of an emergency. Flashing emergency prism lights and a pre-recorded personalized message delivered via PA system per type of event can help students and staff clarify the situation at hand.
6. Create Direct Communications with the Police
Students and teachers typically call 911 operators and not the police directly. This wastes time during an emergency and causes a breakdown of communications. In addition, the shooter's exact location is not identified. Recent technology such as Ganz D2PD has addressed this issue by creating a direct 2-way chat system , and onscreen building maps shared with their local police that can be installed on every teacher’s laptop pinpointing the incident's location, helping the police find and detain the shooter sooner.
7. Install Silent Emergency Communications Devices in All Classrooms
When an active shooter is nearby, students and teachers are afraid to speak up when contacting 911 or calling out for help to nearby officers for fear of being found. That’s why every teacher and administrator should have a quick, direct, and silent way of contacting the police, either via laptop software, a physical panic button, or both .
8. Install a Centralized Monitoring Platform
A centralized security system that simultaneously manages surveillance cameras, building maps, alerts, access control, analytics, and more is beneficial in an emergency. For example, CORTROL VMS can monitor different areas of the school, and actions can be preprogrammed to respond to incidents. In addition, real-time monitoring of building access (doors closed, open, locked, unlocked, unknown) and managing entry access from a centralized interface can proactively prevent a crisis.
Schools that lack funding are often at a disadvantage. Luckily, there are many resources for grants, state, and federal funding . In addition, there are inconsistencies and confusion due to the lack of a federal law requiring a panic button or other related technologies that assist in reducing response times. However, a law known as Alyssa’s Law has been passed in several states that require schools to install a panic button system. Currently, there is legislation to pass Alyssa’s Law at the national level , which would necessitate panic button systems in all US schools.
Added security measures can lessen the severity of an emergency event. However, any technology, added staff, or a school safety plan can still fail without proper training, drills, and implementation.
* Check with your state government laws for the use of audio recording technology.
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