Around this time last year, we were reeling — both as a country and an industry — just a few weeks after the horrific Sandy Hook massacre. Security integrators were scrambling to reassure, reassess and, in some cases, remedy, the security technologies and plans of the schools that serves as their clients.
Meanwhile, the few weeks gave the talking heads, political hand-wringers and others enough of a “buffer zone” since the incident to safely start spewing rhetoric. And spew they did.
Most of the talk targeted guns. From the NRA espousing armed security guards in the hallways, to legislating the demise of so-called assault weapons — the fervor against guns seemed to swell to never-before-seen proportions. The truth is, that while guns are certainly a pain-point in the assessment of security at our schools, these politicians, pundits and even Presidents were missing the forest for the trees — and most of us in the security industry could see that.
Now, a year later, we should be seeing the lasting impact of these great gun debates — except, of course, we aren’t seeing much of anything. One day short of the one-year anniversary of Sandy Hook, a student at Arapahoe High School in Colorado shot and killed a fellow student before taking his own life. In the year since Sandy Hook, there have been more than 20 school shootings, according to one advocacy group.
But there may be hope. On the legislative side, at least 540 separate bills related to school safety and security made their way through the 50 states this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Of those bills, 106 laws were enacted — ranging from preventative and planning measures to additional security personnel and the commissioning of studies and advisory councils on school safety.
Despite all the politics, debates, and even enacted laws, we still seem to be right where we started — and this is where you come in. Sure, you can stand on a mountaintop and scream at the top of your lungs about gun control; or, you can do what you do best: assess, create and improve the security measures at the schools you already have (or will have) as clients. “Many people argue that it’s difficult to protect children from heavily armed, mentally disturbed people prepared to give their lives,” school security consultant Pat Fiel said in a recent article on SecurityInfoWatch.com. “Yes, it is difficult, but not impossible; and we can do this without making our schools resemble prisons.”
We are fortunate that even as these school security incidents continue to occur, there is time and money available to make improvements with a comfortable timetable; and the technology is there and improving. All this school security legislation should have, at the very least, deepened the pockets of schools looking to assuage their parents’ security concerns.
Will 2014 be the year for school security? Only time will tell — but you have more power than most to make a real impact.
Don’t Forget the Fast50
Don’t let our annual Fast50 program get lost in your beginning-of-the-year shuffle. Take a moment and check out the ad on page 15 of this issue, or visit www.securityinfowatch.com/sdifast50 for full details. Once you are ready with your numbers from the past three years, please visit the link and enter for free.