Written by John Millet on August 25, 2015
Recently, I drove onto a school property and was greeted by a small building outside the front of the school that gave the impression that “someone was watching me”, aka a guard booth/information booth. What was my first reaction? To look down at my speedometer to see if I was going slow enough!
Schools have choices in how they spend precious security dollars and where they can most effectively house the increasing need for armed security personnel.
For all schools, the first security must - putting locks on all doors as a deterrent. Security cameras are an important next step to help identify where and what is happening when an event occurs. This security step, however, is about monitoring all doors and directing responders, but sadly does not deter what happens after the fact once they are inside the building. No assailant will be deterred by security cameras because he/she knows the response will be too slow to intervene with his/her plan.
Fences around the perimeter are also a worthwhile security deterrent, at least it appears that way to the population but is not likely effective against any real assailant.
Uniformed security staff are there to give a professional response and presence in the school. And, the professional educational staff may love having these security staff people in the halls to break up fights and assist in disciplinary actions that the education staff had always done in the past. To do the job inside the educational facility, most security staff is usually housed within the Principal/Head of School offices.
Keeping “command and control” within the school office; the decision to house the uniformed security staff in the school office started with the best of intentions as it made use of a precious lack of space, consolidated costs and provided discipline in the school office. I would think this decision has outlived its usefulness and that security forces need to be relocated outside the school office and building for 3 huge reasons:
1) Uniformed Security personnel inside the school are focused on what is happening in the school, and not utilizing their strongest role as a security deterrent outside the school. Remember my immediate reaction - Uniformed Security staff should be stationed in a small exterior guard/information booth where they see what is approaching the school, provide security, and check in visitors.
2) Exterior guard booth “office space” is a very expensive space in real dollars but real cheap when you think of their effectiveness as a deterrent.
3) Rapidly I think we are learning that command and control of uniformed security staff response is really not what school administrators are good at. I also feel that well-meaning teachers carrying guns is a nice idea, but they, like all school administrators, really lack the training and experience to know how and what to do in a crisis. This also places staff in a position to determine, without training, the use or non-use of force.
Yes, my Company builds Guard Booths, and because of this we think and study the best recommended security practices. We talk to schools that have decided to purchase guard/information booths and inquire why they have made these decisions? What I have written above is a summary of information that has been provided by school officials & guard booth customers.
Drive onto a school campus with one or more guard booths and see how you feel. Or, just take a look around when you drop your children off to school tomorrow.