During a press conference in response to one of the 1998 school shootings which attracted national attention, one elected official indicated that there is “nothing the state can do” to prevent or prepare for such tragedies. At National School Safety and Security Services, we strongly disagree with such statements. State officials can and should take a leadership role in providing support to local school districts for improving their school security and crisis preparedness measures.
In fact, Ken Trump, our president, has actively supported state leaders in examining strategies for improving school safety. In 1998, he was selected to brief Indiana’s Education Roundtable, co-chaired by Governor Frank O’Bannon and State Superintendent, Dr. Suellen Reed, on recommendations for state action on school safety. In addition to the many positive strategies already initiated by the Indiana Department of Education, in 1999 the Indiana Legislature passed a multi-faceted strategy which included expansion of Indiana’s safe haven program, creation of a state-certified training academy for school safety specialists from each Indiana school corporation, funding for resources for school security support, and creating county-level leadership councils on school safety.
Ken was also asked to present to school safety recommendations to state officials attending the National Governors’ Association and National Institute of Justice Policy Forum on Juvenile Offenders in Michigan in May of 1999. Other public officials have also contacted our office for professional advice on how state leaders can help school districts improve school safety. Our recommendations include, but are not limited to:
- Provide training programs for educators and school support staff on school security and crisis preparedness issues, as well as programs specifically geared to board members, superintendents, principals, elected community officials, and others directly impacting school and community policy-making and leadership.
- Create and fund a state-level school safety center to serve as a resource on school safety, security, crisis preparedness, and related issues.
- Improve school crime reporting requirements and related data collection.
- Establish enhanced penalties for crimes committed in schools , on school grounds, and against school officials.
- Require school districts to create, maintain, and update school crisis preparedness guidelines and security plans.
- Fund security-specific, grant-funded programs for security and crisis support materials such as school security equipment, development of crisis preparedness guidelines, etc.
- Strengthen prevention, intervention, and alternative programs for at-risk and delinquent youth.
These recommendations and others presented to state leaders are based on our experience in working with school, law enforcement, and youth-service providers in over 35 states and in Canada. School security and crisis preparedness needs continue to evolve, however, especially in light of recent national terrorism issues. See our page on the impact of terrorism on school security and crisis preparedness planning for our latest observations and recommendations.
We believe that our state leaders can provide school officials the tools and resources to make their schools more safe, secure, and prepared to prevent, and if necessary to manage, school crisis incidents. For questions or additional information, contact Ken Trump directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.