National School Safety and Security Services regularly receives questions about the use of metal detectors, surveillance cameras and other security equipment in schools while conducting our school security assessments and our school safety and crisis preparedness training, as well as from media officials covering stories on related issues.
While we are not “anti-equipment” or “anti-technology” in our approach (like some school safety consultants), we do believe that the use of equipment and technology in school safety programs is also not a panacea for solving all safety concerns. Unfortunately, a number of school districts have created a false sense of security in response to recent high-profile school violence tragedies by moving quickly to install equipment and other physical and tangible measures, often for the sake of having something concrete that they can show to students, staff, parents, the media, and the overall school community as evidence that they have worked on improving school safety.
We do believe however that when effectively used, equipment can contribute toward reducing specifically-identified school safety risks under the appropriate circumstances. Rather than simply having equipment for the sake of having equipment though, we believe that school officials should be able to answer a number of questions before employing security equipment including:
1. What specific security threats and concerns are you attempting to address by using a particular type of security equipment?
2. How will this equipment help address these threats and how will you actually use it on a day-to-day basis?
3. If you are able to purchase the equipment, how will it be maintained, repaired and upgraded, as necessary?
In our school security assessments, some of the common concerns we find regarding the use of security equipment include, but are not limited to:
a) Inappropriate use of existing security equipment
b) Failure to identify where technology can be appropriately used
c) Poor purchasing practices related to school security equipment
d) Failure to integrate the use of equipment with human, procedural and other school safety strategies.
To learn more about school security equipment and technology, check out the National Institute of Justice’s Research Report on the topic entitled “The Appropriate and Effective Use of School Security Technologies.”
For additional information on our school security assessments and our school safety and crisis preparedness training, which include addressing school security equipment issues, visit our web pages and contact our president, Ken Trump.