The report entitled Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools: Findings From the School Survey on Crime and Safety: 2017–18, covers a range of topics dealing with how to maintain a safe school environment, It’s a question that we all want answers on and which as we know needs to be kept at the top of the political agenda particularly in the light of the Parkland shooting in Florida. There are also lessons to be learned from these tragedies which is sadly too late for the victims, but which can help prevent future incidents. We can also use the insight to apply to other types of facilities such as hospitals, hotels churches, courts and other public buildings. And of course the best approaches can be adopted in the private sector to protect workplaces, HOAs, hotels, shopping malls, and even tourist attractions.
Key findings from the report on school security included:
Schools most commonly report having written plans for natural disasters (94 percent), active shooters (92 percent), and bomb threats or incidents (91 percent) – for all other types of organization and business you only have to benchmark your own organization against this list to see if you have these vital threat assessment plans in place. If you don’t then there’s a gap that needs to be filled.
About 46 percent of traditional public schools had a School Resource Officer present at school at least once a week, compared with only 19 percent of charter schools. Conversely, a higher percentage of charter schools had a security guard or other security personnel present at least once a week (35 vs. 21 percent). This finding raises the question of how often do you need a physical security presence on your property and are you making use of technology to fill in the gaps? Cameras are a cost effective way to provide a security presence if your budget won’t stretch to a full time guarding presence.
During the 2017–18 school year, there were an estimated 3,600 incidents nationwide involving the possession of a firearm or explosive device at school. Now that’s a little scary as a figure but at least everyone knows what the extent of the problem is. Our response is to encourage schools to use VaporWake K9s to sniff out explosives before they enter the school!
Lower percentages of schools located in towns (38 percent) and rural areas (34 percent) reported having a threat assessment team during the 2017–18 school year than did schools located in cities (50 percent) and suburbs (49 percent). This figure is not unsurprising but is it right?
Public schools reported that 54,400 serious violent incidents occurred at school in 2017–18. The percentage of schools reporting a serious violent incident was higher in 2017–18 (21.3 percent) than in 2015–16 (15.5 percent). On this statistic again it is better to know the figure so that plans can be made to deal with the risk. Perhaps better awareness is also giving rise to a higher figure. What we can do with the figure is to segment it into the types of violent incident to ensure there is an adequate response.
All in all it is better to be informed and plan – rather than be in the dark. Working out security plans for schools is a job for experts. If you decide you would like to look at a security plan for your school or other facility please get in touch with the Shergroup team.