There are no shortages of security products and services being peddled to schools. And more security experts popping up every day.
We spend an enormous amount of time and energy vetting the best security solutions on the market. We do this to help our thousands of school clients. They need trusted partners to help them navigate a less than transparent market.
But that is an article for a different today.
Last week, we witnessed numerous incidents across the U.S., and one in my backyard where my kids go to school, of individuals breaching security. And quite honestly, the solution was not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fortify the building.
No matter how fortified you make the school, which I would argue, is not and should not be your one and only solutions for school security, you still have to open the door throughout the day to allow in students, staff, visitors, volunteers and contractors.
A comprehensive school visitor management system is the foundation for security. You cannot purchase bullet resistant glass or film, metal detectors, or secured vestibules if you have no access control system in place.
Schools are not the mall. Not everybody that wants to come in should be allowed in.
Until you manage the flow of visitors, contractors, volunteers or community partners walking through your doors, all of the other hardening solutions are irrelevant.
If you build a secure vestibule, but have no line of sight and only an aiphone and a buzzer, then you are going to lose. How do I know? Because it happened at a school my kids attend last week.
A student came to the front doors, which were locked, and used the buzzer system to alert the front office and get cleared to enter because the office is not near the entry-way. Unknown to the front office team, who does not have cameras at this time, a 22 year old was behind the student and was able to gain entry into the school.
The trespasser was in the building for several periods, with a backpack, and was found in a bathroom by a school resource officer. Intent is yet unknown.
The lesson is that people do want into our schools. And some of those that want access should not have access. Sex offenders, especially predatory sex offenders, will stop at nothing to gain access to our kids.
What if that had been an estranged spouse, coming to school because he knew his estranged partner would be there. Because they have to work, they need to make money. Sounds like the school murder in San Bernardino several years ago where the teacher, estranged partner, was killed in her classroom along with another student.
Controlling access is critical. The school visitor management system is the foundation for a security program. The visitor management system should:
Require government issued ID for temporary visitors and scan their barcode
Check of national sex offender and Excluded Parties
Integrated background checks for high frequency visitors such as volunteers and/or contractors.
Integration with a student information system to sync who is approved to pick up a student.
Sophisticated ID validation process to confirm who every visitor is.
If schools are not managing the flow of people in and out of their buildings then everything else is for naught.