Conference works to make schools safer recently caught up with Paul Timm, president of RETA Security to learn about the firm’s annual "School Safety Conference" held in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, Ill. The conference is being held next week, on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, and is designed for school facility and school district administration, local police and fire first responders, school transportation directors and other persons in charge of school safety or local public safety issues. The event, which is free to attend, offers an in-depth, one-day look at current school security concerns, and is organized by Timm and the team from RETA Security. Registration for the 2011 conference is available online.

SIW: What is the concept behind your School Safety Conference?

Timm: In an industry that has been known to adopt a "Lone Ranger" mentality, we recognized the need for collaboration. Schools may need more than our physical security consulting expertise, more than electronic solutions providers alone, and more than specialized violence prevention programs. As you know, the conference is sponsored by agencies and institutions such as the Illinois State Board of Education and the Archdiocese of Chicago. We found a way to bring a diverse group of experts together and schools love it. It seems like attendance grows every year and this year, on September 8th, we expect more than 400 attendees. Our goal is to make learning environments safer.

SIW: What are the topics that will be addressed?

Timm: Our presenters are stellar this year. From bullying prevention and internet safety to gang issues and counterterrorism, the topics are so relevant, so current. Attendees will benefit from a fast-paced line-up and a dynamic array of subject matter experts. Who knows, my son may even make an appearance to offer a student’s perspective on technology risks.

SIW: The conference will also have approximately a dozen vendors exhibiting. Who is on board?

Timm: We are pleased to have returning vendors such as Ingersoll Rand, ITR Systems, Salient Systems, Pro-Line Safety Products, and Advent Systems. New to the conference this year are Raptor Technologies, Diamond Security, Honeywell Building Solutions, Acorn Wire & Iron Works, Reliable Fire, and Lauren Innovations. We will also have Gallagher Bassett Services and Larson & Darby Group. We greatly appreciate their participation.