When layering your security program for your school, business, church, or residence, what measures should you consider when incorporating technology with physical security measures and professional training?Over the past 35+ years’ within the fields of law enforcement and security operations, I have seen many types of security measures implemented, some highly effective and some very ineffective.
If you’re responsible for protecting an asset from potential criminal activity, you need to consider the mindset of the criminal that intends to cause you harm. Let’s use a college campus as an example and the students and staff as our most valuable assets.
Most campuses are designed as an “open campus”, with public roadways and walkways. For security measures, they typically have their own police department and offer site specific emergency response training, or a generic training video, such as the widely used Run, Hide, Fight video. College campuses are basically a heavily populated city in a relatively small geographical location, making them a target of opportunity for someone who intends to carry out a mass casualty attack. We must utilize all available resources to protect our schools.
The bullet points below represent identified systems and tactics that are generally found to be in place at a college campus:
• An independent police department, responsible for patrolling, investigating suspicious and criminal activity, and resolving disputes.
• An emergency alert notification system, to alert staff and students when there is an active threat situation on campus.
• A robust closed-circuit television (CCTV) system with security cameras that monitor interior and exterior space. It may be a passive system, like most, or an actively monitored system.
• Nearly all campus buildings have access control measures in place to protect staff, students, and property.
An Emergency Action Plan, to provide guidance when dealing with emergency situations.
• An agreement with surrounding law enforcement agencies, to assist with active threat incidents, and establishing cooperation between agencies for mutual aid.
Due to several recent active shooter incidents, I am frequently asked questions regarding security measures that should or should not be in place at schools and college campuses. After each school shooting, I am sure that many school administrators ask themselves, “Do we have sufficient security measures in place?”, “What would we have done differently to protect our campus?”, “If ______ school couldn’t stop an active shooter before someone was killed, how could we?”
These are all fair questions that would lead administrators to do “more”, but will “more” be enough? Let me pose this question, how do you deter, detect, deny, or defeat a criminal with intent to cause you harm? It’s all done with a strategically designed layered security program.
You must first recognize where you are vulnerable. Where is your weakest link? Once all vulnerabilities are identified you will need a plan for mitigation, and this plan must align with the culture of your school, business, church, or residence. If it does not align, then your
mitigation solutions will be circumvented through daily operations, or merely for the sake of convenience. For example, failing to secure doors, propping doors open, not setting alarm systems, failing to follow up on emergency response training, and the list goes on.
Layering your security plan must be methodical and security measures must be in alignment with your operations, culture and daily activities. When considering what measures to put in place, here are some of the things you must consider as you design and implement your plan:
• Who and/or what are you protecting?
• Who is (or potentially could be) your adversary?
• What is the physical makeup of your natural and man-made surroundings.
• What are your operating and/or occupied hours?
• How is your physical structure designed?
• Do you have access control measures in place?
• What type of security technologies do you have in place?
• Do you have an effective emergency action plan?
• Has your staff been trained on emergency response procedures?
• Have you identified and prepared safe rooms?
• Do you have emergency medical equipment onsite and has your staff been trained to use the equipment?
• Are local First Responders familiar with your environment and plan?
The types of threats that exist and security measures that may be implemented are truly endless. But remember, when designing your plan, your security measures should not “interfere” with your daily operations. You should also not “feel like” a prisoner within your operational environment.
So, where do you start? How do you identify your vulnerabilities and best mitigation solutions? In short, I recommend having an assessment conducted by a reliable 3rd party security consultant and working alongside them during the process. Ensure they do their due diligence
when reviewing your physical building(s), surroundings, business operations, culture, and that they understand your acceptable risk tolerance. All should be factors when considering mitigation solutions to be implemented.
On a final note, based on information learned from past active shooter incidents, I feel most schools, businesses and law enforcement agencies have done a pretty good job with the resources and information they may have had available. I am also confident that they have
learned from their respective incidents and will or have implemented additional security measures to strengthen their layers. Let’s all take the time to study and learn from past incidents as we build our layered security programs. We must work together to identify solutions and keep each other safe. Together we are strong and apart we are vulnerable. Stay strong and stay vigilant!
Dave Skinner, CEO
National Tactical Security