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In today’s school security climate, many administrators assume that faculty and staff will intuitively respond appropriately to an emergency. However, this is not a wise assumption. When the pressure is on because of a viable threat, school employees need a clear set of guidelines to follow – and these guidelines should be implemented long before the emergency happens. This summer, school administrators can prepare for a potential emergency by taking the following three out-of-the-box approaches.

1. Train Them to Use Equipment

When new security equipment is installed, administrators are not the only ones who need to be trained in its use. Schools can hold an in-service day with faculty and staff that trains them on the way video surveillance systems, access control systems and alarms around the campus work. When equipment has been in place for years but is currently being upgraded, that is also a great time for staff to be trained. The knowledgeable technicians of your security integrator can assist with this training.

2. Hold Demo Days and Drill

Just as the students are trained to react via fire drills, faculty and staff can be trained to react to a security emergency via mock incidents that cover a variety of potential scenarios. During these drills, equipment that should be demoed includes the following: the mass notification system to rehearse how the lead will communicate to the campus during the emergency, the electronic locks to mimic a lockdown of the campus, and the alarm system to prepare for how the audible alarms will be used in a given emergency scenario. By understanding how the equipment will operate in an emergency, faculty can be more mentally prepared when seconds count.

3. Designate Points, Prepare to Train Students

Around the campus, there are places that can be official safe zones – for example, classrooms that can be designated as places for students to barricade themselves in the event of an emergency. These places should be communicated to faculty during summer security training, and this information can then be passed down to students once classes begin. Students should engage in drills as early as possible in the school year, so they can be aware of security protocols from the beginning of the school year on.

By getting serious about school security during the summer, campus faculty can be better prepared when it matters most. To speak with an experienced security integrator that can help, contact Security Instrument.

About Security Instrument

Security Instrument is a full-service, independently-owned integrator that offers numerous options to mitigate school emergencies in Delaware. We serve thousands of electronic security customers located throughout Delaware, MD, NJ & PA.

School’s out for summer, but the work goes on for administrators who are on duty year-round. One of the most important things school administrators can do during the summer months is fine tune their school security policies. When partnering with the security integrators who are contracted to do the work, school administrators can update security policy for the benefit of the students and staff alike. Here are some ways to get started.

1. Schedule a Campus Risk Assessment 

During the summer break, administrators can hold a risk assessment for the school campus that involves looking at the expected enrollment for the next year – and, takes into account any changes that may have occurred over the past school year in terms of class sizes, staff turnover, or security-specific events.

2. Focus on Best Practices

Today’s best practices call for layers of security on campus, in order to inhibit potential criminals from entering classroom buildings. For example: Limiting visitors to a single point of entry into the main building, and ensuring that all fences, gates and even signage around campus funnels the incoming traffic to that single entry point. Another example is to implement electronic measures such as electronic locks and mass notification systems.

3. Consider Additional Measures

Access control systems are not just for private corporations; they are also for school campuses – public, private and charter alike. With an access control system, students and staff are required to swipe a simple credential (perhaps their school-issued ID card) in order to be granted entry by the electronic portal.

Campus risk assessment can include determining which outdoor points need added cameras to ensure all-points surveillance on campus. It can also involve determining which indoor areas need surveillance, such as stairwells and locker rooms.

 

4. Take the Measures to Another Level

With an access control system, schools can keep watch lists for administrators to record the names of potential unwanted visitors. This list can include disgruntled ex-employees, non-custodial parents of students, and personal friends of students who have no reason to be on campus.

5. Implementing or Enhancing Video Surveillance

The time for all schools to implement video surveillance systems is now. For campuses that already have camera systems, enhancing them is a measure that can also take place over the summer. For example, the campus risk assessment can include determining which outdoor points need added cameras to ensure all-points surveillance on campus. It can also involve determining which indoor areas need surveillance, such as stairwells and locker rooms.

Summer is undoubtedly the perfect time of year to fine tune school security. For questions on these security policy updates or inquiries about additional measures, contact Security Instrument for a complimentary campus assessment.

About Security Instrument

Security Instrument is a full-service, independently-owned integrator that offers numerous electronic security options. We understand school security in Delaware, and we serve thousands of customers throughout Delaware, MD, NJ & PA.

When school is out for the summer, that’s when large campuses can turn their focus to developing a security plan for the coming school year. It’s a challenge, but a necessary endeavor.

Because campuses range in size, population, number of buildings and amount of open space, there is no one-size-fits-all model for securing them. But by taking a multi-layered approach, a school’s security department can determine which types of security can best work for the campus’s needs.

Layer #1: Address Immediate Needs

Many times, campuses address their security plans after a recent threat. If that is the case, then the first order of business is to examine whether there are any measures that could have prevented the incident, electronic or otherwise. Often, these measures include better security at the entry point that was used to gain access to the campus.

Layer #2: Identify Other Campus Security Challenges

If there is no recent security incident, then the next step is to reflect on other campus security challenges. What types of incidents present themselves on the campus? The security department should pull all available reports to find out which campus security violations occur the most often.

Because campuses range in size, population, number of buildings and amount of open space, there is no one-size-fits-all model for securing them.

Layer #3: Identify Problem Locations

Where do those violations occur? Do most of the burglaries occur in dorm rooms or classrooms? Do most of the assaults take place behind buildings or in parking lots? Knowing the answers to these questions will help the department determine where cameras should be monitoring the premises.

Layer #4: Consider Outside Traffic

How often do students leave campus, and what are the outside establishments they frequent? Are there policies in place to limit visitors – especially in the evening? Updating the security plan is the perfect occasion for adding or adjusting visitor policies.

Layer #5: Ask Your Integrator for Advice

When a campus is working with an experienced security integrator, that external perspective can prove to be highly valuable. An outside consultant brings a fresh eye to a project that day-to-day security staff may overlook, with insights on where additional trouble spots may be.

Sometimes, updating the campus security plan is a reality check on the school’s risks and vulnerabilities. Regardless, it’s work that must be done in order to provide students and staff with the safest environment possible. To speak with an experienced security integrator about this, contact Security Instrument. We will be glad to meet you for a complimentary campus security assessment.

About Security Instrument

Security Instrument is a full-service, independently-owned integrator that offers numerous home security options. We are a Delaware Valley security company that serves thousands of customers located throughout Delaware, MD, NJ & PA.

Schools today face a wider range of security concerns than ever before. From petty acts of graffiti or vandalism to the ever-present risk of mass shootings, administrators in Delaware and beyond are constantly on the lookout for new and better ways to enhance school security while maintaining quality learning spaces for their students. Ultimately, the goal of any integrated security structure within a school should be to manage the area more effectively, keep students safe from harm, and allow everyone to feel secure while they learn and teach.

Security technology and basic building management now go hand in hand. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2011-2012 school year 88% of schools locked entrances and monitored entrances to the building. Another 44% used locked and monitored gates to secure access to the grounds. Sixty-four percent relied upon security cameras to watch what was happening throughout the building. These changes allow administration and security staff to more efficiently monitor what happens during the day and come up with appropriate policies for their schools.

The right mix of security systems and freedom of movement can make a tremendous difference in the quality of education children receive while they are in school. These three areas are key to that success.

Visibility and Monitoring

Not surprisingly, if 90% of a building can be in direct line of sight to a teacher or other authority figure, the rule-breaking will almost always happen in the other 10%. Using cameras to monitor behavior between classrooms helps reduce bullying, fighting, and vandalism by putting eyes in those areas, cutting down on incidents and bringing culprits to justice. Videotape recorders are still common but vary significantly in quality. Fortunately, digital recording technology has come a long way and is quickly becoming the standard for school security.

Metal Detectors

In 2003-4, only two percent of public schools had students pass through metal detectors daily. That number has doubled by the 2011-12 school year, and the number of random metal detector sweeps have increased as well. Given the proliferation of gun violence across the country, this is hardly surprising. They are most commonly found in urban school settings and at the secondary level and play a key role in preventing random school shootings.

Access Control Technologies

Many schools now favor electronic access control over the entrances and exits. While card swipes, fingerprints, or code boxes may cost more in the short run, they are more secure than regular keyed entries. They also offer flexibility for other staff members, who may need to come and go from front or side doors during the day. This allows even main doors to remain locked and makes it harder for intruders to enter the school.

About Security Instrument

The ultimate goal of all these security systems is to make the school feel as secure as possible for the students inside while having the smallest effect on how “jail-like” the building becomes. It is an important balance of safety and freedom for students, teachers and administrators alike. Contact Security Instrument today – we’ve been integrating campus security solutions throughout Delaware and beyond since 1960.

Eyewitness testimony has always played an important role in solving crimes and heavily relied upon by law enforcement and the court system. Law enforcement processes the information in hopes of attaining enough information to find and convict the criminal. In court, juries tend to see eyewitness testimony as a reliable and place a lot of weight on that person’s ability to relay information about the event, as well as the perpetrators. However, just how reliable and accurate is eyewitness testimony? New studies shed light on the psychological factors related to eyewitness testimony and give good reasons why surveillance camera footage is critical.

RESEARCH UNCOVERS WHY MEMORY IS SPOTTY

People tend to think of memory as their own video surveillance camera with a rewind button that allows them to perfectly recall the details of any event. That’s not anywhere close to how memory works, however. Research has actually found that recall is affected by many factors, including stress, fear, and selective attention. Since crimes are highly stress and fear and inducing, it impacts the details witnesses can recall later.

For example, if a weapon is used during a crime event, witnesses are much more likely to be able to describe the weapon in detail than able to describe details of the perpetrator’s face. This is because the mind places more importance on the weapon and the attention is automatically drawn there. This is not very helpful in reconstructing events, or finding and convicting criminals but without access to video surveillance footage, it’s all we might have.

SURVEILLANCE CAMERA FOOTAGE IS CRITICAL

There is no doubt that video surveillance systems play an important role in campus security. Individual recollections are easily influenced by personal beliefs and expectations, cultural influences and stereotyping as well as other psychological processes. Video surveillance systems serve as the backbone of criminal cases and is the one unbiased witness to events.

YOU HAVE TO GET IT RIGHT, THOUGH

In the world of video surveillance systems, choice, application, and placement matters. Camera and surveillance technology is complex and there are many features and options that play an important role in just how effective your system is for you.

One simple example is how your choice in types of cameras and placement impact things the surveillance camera’s image quality, ability to handle low light or darkness and variances in light within a given area. The wrong types of cameras and placement might mean restrictions in the field of view, lighting additions, or inability to use tilt and zoom to capture suspicious activity.

About Security Instrument

Founded in 1960, Security Instrument Corporation, a privately held U.S. Corporation, provides electronic security and life safety detection and associated monitoring and support services.

In light of the steady increase in school and workplace violence, it has become necessary for every school campus to consider implementing lockdown protocols to be used in the event of an emergency. While no one plan will fit every institution and no plan is perfect, there are some tips and procedures that every protocol should include.

Here are some important considerations in creating effective lockdown procedures.

Talk to Law Enforcement Agencies

Creating lockdown procedures is a huge responsibility, which is one reason why many institutions put off doing it. As big as the task, it is important to remember that it does have not need to be done alone or from scratch. One of the best places to start is with local law enforcement agencies. There may be local law enforcement protocols that can or must be included and they will have valuable input on what you can do to help them help you in a time of crisis.

Glean Information from Other Institutions

It is very likely that there are already plans in place at other local institutions that may work in yours. Ask bigger businesses for their input about your biggest areas of concern and find out what worked for them. Having a critical eye on your plan can help you spot areas of trouble or help you play to your facility strengths.

Talk to Security System Professionals

One of the most important things you can do is talk to a security system professional specifically about system features and technologies that can aid in the event of a serious incident, such as video surveillance and access control systems. Advanced access control systems can create serious boundaries between you and an active shooter or other threat.

Have Plans for all Types of Lockdowns

There are many different situations that might require using lockdown procedures such as active shooter, hostage situation, riots, external criminal activity, or natural disaster. These situations require different types of lockdown procedures.

  • Shelter in Place- Used when a hazard is external and evacuation is not recommended.
  • Reverse Evacuations- Used to get people outside a facility in and undercover.
  • Internal Threat-Used to keep people safe when the threat is inside a facility.
  • External Threat-Used to keep a threat outside the facility.
  • Full Lockdown– Used in response to an active serious threat requiring immediate action.

Base Lockdown Decision on the Nature of the Threat

Basing the lockdown protocol on the location of the treat rather than the type of threat has proven to be far less effective. Base the lockdown protocol on the type of threat.

Make Sure Codes are Clear and Distinct

Great lockdown procedures can actually increase potential harm if the codes are not clear. Make sure the words used to name the different types of lockdowns are distinctly different from one another.

Use Every Staff Member as an Element in Security

Train and equip every member of the staff to be an added layer or element in your security plan.

Have Regular Practice Drills

If the lockdown procedures become well-practiced, individuals are less likely to freeze or react in fear.

Although there are many other considerations, these are the most common areas that need improvement, and also the most beneficial in implementing. We highly recommend becoming very familiar with all aspects of crisis situations so that you are prepared should the unthinkable happen.

About Security Instrument

Does your campus need a security review? Since 1960, the professionals at Security Instrument Corp. have been securing campuses across Delaware, PA, NJ and MD. Contact us today for an on site evaluation.

Schools are among the safest places in our communities and parents should have every confidence sending their children to these educational havens. Yet, according to Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011, (Washington DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Center for Education and Statistics 2011) in 2010, a greater number of students ages 12-18 were victims of violent crimes in the school than out of the school.

Unfortunately, school violence is a serious problem that no school can afford to ignore. Even small disturbances are not as harmless as we might like to imagine and can be indicators of bigger problems or future crisis.

However, there are measures that drastically reduce the likelihood of violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, research shows using multiple prevention strategies and levels of influence and intervention, can reduce violence and improve the school environment.

Best Ways to Improve School Safety

Since there is no way to predict a crime, and likewise no one factor that causes crime, it is imperative to use several methods to increase school safety. Your safety measures should include a combination tactical improvements, as well as measures that involve the staff, parents, students, and community. Here are some key ways you can improve school safety.

1. Start at the Personal Level

Develop programs that help students learn conflict resolution, communication, teamwork, and emotional awareness. Bridge the gaps in the teacher/staff and student relationship by developing better communication, positive engagement, and creating a more community oriented atmosphere. Improve access to school counseling.

2. Involve Parents and the Community in the Prevention of Violence

By involving parents in a well-developed crime prevention program they are more able to enforce the strategies at home and able to spot possible threats in the community. In many cases, just having an increased parental/adult presence in the school is a powerful force in preventing violence. Programs and training can also help the community deal with a crisis, should one occur.

3. Consider Tactical Improvements

Every educational institution should consider implementing the tools that will help keep students and staff safe and aid law enforcement in the event of a crisis. For example, school facilities should have a comprehensive security system that incorporates a video surveillance system. Consider a system that allows remote (such as with a smartphone) and centralized locking for the swiftest and most controlled lockdown procedures. Make sure every building is clearly labeled from all angles, including the roof. Both staff and students should be trained in emergency procedures.

About Security Instrument

At Security Instrument, we are here to answer your questions and address your concerns about school security. We’ve been proving integrated solutions for schools and campuses since 1960.