School Security: The Importance of Highly Trained School Security Officers

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 682

In the past several years, we have seen our schools become the site of deadly mass shootings. According to statistic from FBI records in 2016, there had been 50 mass murders or attempted mass murders at schools since the Columbine shooting. In a recent report compiled by ABC News, there were a record 270 total shootings at schools since the Columbine event. While we prefer to imagine that our schools are safe and secure, the truth is that shootings are on the rise and gun laws become less stringent or stay the same, it is unlikely that this trend will change. However, school officials and administrators do not have to feel helpless. There are many tested and proven strategies to protect your students, faculty, and staff from this type of tragedy, and from lesser acts of violence, such as bulling or vandalism.

Many schools today do employ professional security guards, but unfortunately, they may not realize that their teachers, monitors or volunteers do not have the training or experience needed in the event of life-threatening challenges. And the unfortunate truth is that even trained security guards don’t provide 100% safety. To ensure you have taken every step possible to maintain the security of your educational facility, take the following steps:

  1. Keep your emergency team and staff up to date on training and resources. In other words, know what you’re process will be in the event of any type of emergency situation, including weather-related disasters, power outages, an accident on campus, internal violence and/or unexpected or threatening visitors. Make sure that your staff are clear on the steps to take in specific events, including the chain of command, an evacuation plan, where emergency exits and fire alarms are located, and other life-saving techniques such as CPR. These emergency processes should be reviewed and practiced on a regular basis, and new staff should always be trained on this information.
  2. Hire qualified school security guard personnel who can control building access, offer a visual presence as a deterrent, and who have the specific knowledge about how to handle a wide-range of difficult situations with the utmost care and professionalism. This investment may at first seem financially challenging, but Echelon Protection & Surveillance will work with you to develop both a sustainable and affordable solution to making your campus safe and secure.
  3. Respond immediately when you are worried about a student, faculty, or staff member who is exhibiting signs of stress, making threats or has a preoccupation with violence. Make sure that you communicate your counseling and/or psychological services to all of your students and employees frequently and in many different media. According the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education, 81 percent of school shootings happened even though someone had information that the attacker was considering or planning the event. Take each and every warning sign seriously and contact local authorities if you are concerned by a student’s behavior.
  4. Develop specific protection and safety protocols before, during, and after any school events including: athletics, special events, administrative meetings, and pick-up and drop-off locations for students. During these times, consider hiring trained security professionals to monitor these activities and events. Our security guards are trained and prepared to keep a close watch on your people and property in any situation, and to respond swiftly and appropriately if a problem or challenge arises.

If you take these steps, your students, faculty, staff and guests will be better protected, and feel safer. Having highly trained security guards onsite provides more than just a deterrent or presence in a uniform – they are professional goodwill builders and problem solvers with extensive real-world school experience. In addition, all of our school security guards possess specialized training to aid them in working with young people, allowing them to become an integrated and trusted part of your safe and secure educational environment.

We urge you to take the necessary steps to avoid becoming another tragic news story. These actions will in turn reduce your risk and liability. In the long run, you can focus on what matters most—educating students.