A Holistic Approach to School Security

school hallway (image)How many acts of violence must there be on school property for school officials to recognize that they have a problem on their hands. Not all violence committed on school property is firearm related. The fact is, since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida took place in February 2018, the number of violent threats or actual incidents increased from 13.2 per day to 59.4 (https://unc.live/2PQgafa).

Lawmakers are busy creating new laws to handle threats and actual acts of violence not only in schools but church buildings and other common locations. Law enforcement is busy doing their part by creating specialized investigatory groups of men and women who’s job it is to scour the Internet, specifically Social Media, in an attempt to identify possible individuals and groups likely to commit acts of violence in school settings.

Ohio State PoliceIn Ohio, for instance, State government has assembled what they call a School Safety Center where they do this and more. “The new office under Ohio Homeland Security is intended to help educators and police prevent and address violence involving schools and students. It began its work months ago with a staff that included intelligence analysts scanning social media and websites for threats” (http://bit.ly/38TM17M).

The other side of the coin is that of specific security precautions set forth within each school environment. To name five of the most critical components:

  1. Video Surveillance
  2. Fire Alarm
  3. Mass Notification
  4. Gunshot Detection
  5. School Lock-Down

Domed camera along with siren speakers (image)#1 Video Surveillance: An effective video surveillance system must begin with quality cameras. Unless your video cameras are capable of capturing and analyzing the antics of students and others on school property, you won’t be able to identify specific individuals, bad behavior, and an object that a person of interest might have in their hand. Is it a knife or a sharpie marker? Was that a threatening gesture, or was one student handing another a pen or pencil in the hallway? There are systems available today that can analyze what its cameras see, and then alert the right people, such as a resource officer and a school’s director of safety and security, to name only two.

Manual Fire Pull (Image)#2 Fire Alarm: Of all the threats that face students and staff in a school setting, fire is perhaps one of the most likely to occur. Although a fire doesn’t happen everyday, when one does occur, you need to know about it as soon as possible in order to evacuate those areas of the building involved. Older fire alarm systems acted in what is called “zones of detection” where an entire wing or floor is annunciated as a single alarm when a single detector goes into alarm. More modern systems use addressable technology which means each and every detector and sensor in the system is given a unique identification code, which can, in turn, be transmitted to a main fire alarm panel where it can be acted upon.

Notification Appliance Circuit device (image)#3 Mass Notification: This is an expanded notification system designed to notify students, staff, enforcement, first responders, and others when a catastrophic event takes place on school property. This system provides verbal instructions when a fire occurs, when inclement weather outside the school requires immediate action on the part of all concerned. It also offers verbal notification of active shooter situations. It’s designed to provide students and staff alike with relevant information on what to do and where to go.

Detect360 (image)#4 Gunshot Detection: This is the other component to the creation of an effective, protective shield in a school setting. By placing audio sound detection equipment throughout a school building, it’s possible for the gunshot detection system to provide school officials and law enforcement with almost immediate information on the exact location in the school where a shot(s) was fired. By integrating your video surveillance system with a gunshot detection system, you can provide first responders with a bird’s eye view of the assailant and possible victims as it occurs.

Lockdown (image)#5 School Lock-Down: All of the above is most necessary, but without School Lock-Down feature it might all be for naught. Once the location of a shooter incident is known, Once instructions are transmitted from one side of the school to the other, all classrooms and offices—which must be equipped with electric locks—will then automatically secure each classroom and office so the shooter is prevented from gaining access to relatively large groups of people.

In Conclusion, we’ll cover the nuts and bolts of each of the five components above in subsequent blog posts here on the ESC Website. ESC provides each one of these components, so if you have an immediate need at this time, you can rely on one of our ESC experts to provide you with information, engineering, and installation assistance. To contact us now, call 614-754-1393. email ESC@tpromo.com, or use the handy contact form below:

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