Security Consultant Ken Trump's Basic Safety Tips for Schools

Jan. 29, 2007
School security starts with critical communication plans, looks at where weapons can be hidden

DAYTON - Kenneth Trump was consulting with a school district in Indiana after a gun incident where the adults were clamoring to install metal detectors.

But the kids had a simpler, more effective solution.

"The kids said require that book bags be kept in the lockers and ban kids from wearing jackets in the hallway," Trump said. "That's where they were hiding the weapons."

Metal detectors are no magic bullet solution to school safety, Trump said. The single best way to keep kids protected at school is to train everybody - principals, teachers, support staff and kids - to be aware and to sound alarms when something is out of order.

"The bad guys know what to do," Trump said. "We need to do a better job of training the good guys."

Trump is a former Cleveland school safety officer, author of a book on school safety and president of National School Safety and Security Services.

He spoke Tuesday at a University of Dayton dinner for school leaders, co-sponsored by the school of education and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, designed to offer a guide for helping to protect up to one-fifth of all Americans who attend or work in a school each school day.

Since the 1999 Columbine High School killings in Colorado, many schools have mastered the school safety basics, Trump said. But nagging weaknesses remain in many school safety plans and new trends present new challenges.

Among Trump's tips for schools:

* Train everybody, keep the safety plan updated and practice with drills and in-service meetings to brainstorm about safety.

* Communication is critical. Schools in crisis can become overwhelmed, heightening fear among parents and in the community but communication plans are often overlooked.

* Build relationships with law enforcement.

* Think details. Number doors visibly on the inside and outside to help direct emergency responders; know where the building blueprints are; make sure everyone knows if your phone system requires dialing "9" before calling 9-1-1.