Six steps for improving school security

How to protect students and staff members in the wake of Sandy Hook

5). Teach students and teachers to be proactive regarding their own safety. More than anyone, students and teachers are aware of what happens on a campus. Yet they may be hesitant to report concerns to the proper officials. One option is to create a hotline and website that students, teachers and parents can contact anonymously to report suspicious activities.

6). Know who is on the campus at all times. All schools, especially elementary schools, must implement a closed campus policy. The main campus entrance should be controlled using electronic access through a video intercom system. All other doors should be locked throughout the day. Once a visitor is approved to enter, he or she must check in at the office, show government-issued identification to be screened before a temporary badge is printed for the person to wear at all times while on campus.

There are visitor management systems that tie directly into FBI, state and local law enforcement databases to check for criminals and registered sex offenders. It is also easy to program local information such as fired employees and suspended or expelled students. Temporary restraining orders can be added to help prevent a non-custodial parent removing a child from the campus. All classroom doors must be locked from the inside while classes are in session. No visitor should have access to students or teachers while they are in the classroom.

These are just a few of the measures that our schools need to implement in order to ensure the safety of students, teachers and staff. The combination of well-planned security procedures, risk assessments, crisis preparedness planning, security technology and training, along with the involvement of the entire community, can help to reduce incidents on and around school campuses. We owe it to our children to protect them as best we can. Let's not let our focus waiver this time.

About the Author: Patrick V. Fiel, Sr. is an independent security consultant currently working with Security Identification Systems Corp. (SISCO), maker of the FAST-PASS visitor management system. Fiel has served as public safety advisor for a large security integrator; executive director of security for the Washington, D.C. Public School System; and is retired from the U.S. Army Military Police Corps.