Top Security Tips
Five top security tips for day schools, provided by Dr. Joshua Gleis co-founder and vice president of Slingshot Security, LLC:
Operational Security – Focus on your human capital, not your financial capital
You can have the best bomb proof doors in the world, but if your staff leave the doors open or unmonitored they are all worthless. Too many institutions spend money they raised or received for grants on products they do not really need or are not that important. The best move is to focus first and foremost on operational security – it is the cheapest and most effective use of your resources. It requires little money (see #2), as it focuses on training staff and students how to identify and properly handle potential threats before they become emergencies, and how to properly act in an emergency if one does occur. Improving day-to-day security operations, running drills for staff and students, ensuring security guards are following proper procedures and protocols are all important. Having a solid risk assessment that serves as a blueprint and roadmap of your immediate and long term operational and target hardening needs is an important first step. Developing a solid operational plan is also critical.
Do it Right the First Time – Hire a Professional
Too many times I have come to schools and found that they have squandered their money on security products they either did not need or were not relevant for their facility. Take CCTV security cameras for example. They can and do play an important role, but one must do a cost-benefit analysis of the usefulness on spending the bulk of a DHS grant on security cameras when there are other high priority products and services you may need. Remember that these cameras are predominantly used for investigations after an attack takes place. CCTV systems will not deter most active shooters, terrorists, or other deadly attackers. Even actively monitored cameras often miss crimes being committed or are discovered too late – look up the statistics for yourself. Too often the CCTV systems purchased are the wrong systems for the facility at-hand and are positioned in incorrect locations, which is why a complete risk assessment outlining exactly what you need is so key. A do-it-yourself or free law enforcement risk assessment is definitely better than nothing, but there’s only so much you can learn off the internet, and only so much law enforcement can give you for free. I’ve had many clients that were advised to have blast proof window film installed on their windows, but they were not told what thickness or how it should be installed. The result has been that they were sold the wrong products – safety film, not blast film – which is too thin to provide intruder prevention or true blast film qualities. The result: living with a false sense of security and money needlessly spent. Hire a trusted professional with a proven track record – it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Spend your money wisely – Purchase security services and products with a specific purpose in mind: Saving lives
Often times the simplest products are those that are most critical. Too many schools conduct lock down drills without having working locks on their classroom doors. Or they buy high-tech security products that automatically disengage, by law, by the simple pull of a fire alarm. Focus on products that will most immediately save lives. Then build from there. Having a solid access control system, a working Public Address (PA) system, and proper blast proof window film are some examples of good security products.
You get what you pay for – Not all security guards are created equal
A casual observer should not know what guard is armed and what guard is unarmed. Security guards should be trained in counter-surveillance. They should mix up their routine and conduct visible patrols throughout the day. They should often be standing outside, not sitting inside. Don’t spend your money on a security guard just for the sake of saying you have “security.” If you have a doorman-type security guard, you may want to consider a better use of your money by investing in a good access control system and hiring better guards during more critical parts of the day.
Increase Your Awareness and Cooperation with Law Enforcement
We are blessed to live in a country where you know you can rely on law enforcement to reply effectively in the event of an emergency. But there is much you can do to assist law enforcement. Security is everyone’s responsibility, and the more reporting you provide of suspicious activity, and cooperation you show to your local, county, and state law enforcement agencies, the better they can help you. Having your local police and fire officials be familiar with your facility in the event of an emergency can literally mean the difference between life and death. Consider opening up your facility on off-hours or quiet days to these local departments. Make sure officials have updated blueprints of your buildings and grounds. The more functions and drills they hold at your school, and the more information that they have, the better they will be able to respond in the event of an emergency.
Dr. Joshua Gleis is co-founder and vice president of Slingshot Security, LLC; a boutique security consulting firm that specializes in operational training, security design, political risk analysis, risk and threat assessments, and perimeter security products. Slingshot’s clients run the gamut from schools and houses of worship, to government agencies, politicians, investors, and investigative and security firms. Joshua is the security consultant and recommended vendor for a number of cooperatives that encompass over 300 participatory organizations.
Joshua is the author of Withdrawing Under Fire: Lessons Learned from Islamist Insurgencies (Potomac Books, Inc.), and lead co-author of Hezbollah & Hamas: Politics, Terrorism & Irregular Warfare in the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Johns Hopkins University Press, Fall 2012). He received his PhD and Masters in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy – the nation’s oldest school of international affairs. Joshua has published multiple articles in books and journals, and has advised U.S. government agencies on topics related to counter-insurgencies, counter-terrorism, and public diplomacy.
Click here to read Better Safe then Sorry! – part I
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