School Security: Best Practices

How to mitigate shootings and other violent events on school grounds


Resource and Security Officers

Whether the threat is vandalism, student violence, terrorist threats or an active shooter, having a law enforcement officer or trained/armed security guard on campus can be a strong potential deterrent. Schools can work with local police to establish a school resource officer program. Or, schools can turn to private security companies to provide a trained and armed security guard to fulfill the role of school resource officer.

A school resource officer (SRO) is a law enforcement officer assigned to a school. Their main goal is to prevent juvenile delinquency by promoting positive relations between youth and law enforcement. SROs are not just “cops on campus” — they become part of the staff.

They educate students by teaching law-related classes, and counsel students and parents as well. The SRO becomes involved in the students’ lives as a trusted figure and positive role model. The intent is that the officer becomes part of the school community, making the students feel safer, and provide another trained set of eyes and ears among students to help identify potential issues and vulnerabilities, and reduce juvenile crime.

SRO programs are not new — many schools have used them successfully in the past; however, the economic downturn slashed school budgets and stretched law enforcement resources extremely thin. With not enough officers to spare and schools not being able to afford them, most SRO programs have been cut. President Obama’s new executive orders have provided incentives for schools to hire school resource officers once again.

An economical and effective alternative to an SRO is a fully trained, armed security officer. Many security officers are former law enforcement officers who can be employed through a security company for almost half the cost of the sworn officer.


Kent C. Jurney, CPP, is Vice President of Client Services at ABM Security Services. He has been developing and delivering security protocol and training to schools and private industry for more than 40 years and developed the security curriculum for community colleges which is still part of the academic program in many colleges in Florida. For more information about ABM, visit


Chief Steve Cader is branch manager for ABM Security Services in Northern Calif. He is in his 40th year as a California Peace Officer and is a retired Chief of Police for the town of Atherton, Calif. In addition to his responsibilities with ABM, he also works part time as a police officer, as well as an advisor to a homeland security contractor in bioterrorism and emergency notifications.