A diverse group of Broward County stakeholders released a report this week on improving campus safety that includes several easy-to-adopt school security ideas.
The Broward County League of Cities’ School and Community Public Safety Task Force published the 93-page initial report and recommendations on Monday.
The task force included elected leaders, law enforcement and fire rescue officials, school board members, teachers, principals and victims of the Parkland shooting and their family members.
The authors made more than 100 school security recommendations in the report and included several overarching principals taken from their review, two of which stood out as particularly relevant to school officials around the country.
One of those principals was “People Over Products”, meaning that regardless of your security solutions or policies, in the end, people must adhere to and be vigilant in enforcing policies and procedures.
Another principal was that there are usually many different opportunities for prevention and intervention in these incidents, and thus the report states that the challenge is ensuring that “layers of protection are woven such that the failure at one point may be caught at another.”
“When I look at this event, I see these dominoes— each of them very specific that had to line up that way that morning for things to happen the way they did… here,” says David Wheeler, the father of Ben Wheeler, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. “And when I look at that, all I see are the spaces in between where somebody, somewhere along the way, could have stopped the next domino from falling.”
The Report’s School Security Ideas
Of the report’s many recommendations, the authors identified some they believe can be acted on without many resources or much time.
We further narrowed the list by removing the recommendations that are specific to Broward County to give readers the most applicable and easily-implemented school security ideas in the report. They are listed below.
- Cover windows on doors in schools
- School safety plans should be updated by school officials in the first month of academic year and be sent to local law enforcement and fire agencies for review
- All classroom doors must remain locked at all times
- Implement a policy preventing visitor access to the interior of the campus while students are changing classes
- School staff should hold a mandatory safety meeting to discuss all emergency response procedures the week before the school year starts
- Within the first two weeks of the school year, schools should practice a lockdown drill (with SRO participation if available)
- All drill and emergency response information must be given to all substitutes
- Substitute teachers should have the same key access as regular teachers
- All staff and students should wear ID badges that include important safety information (ie an anonymous tip line or suicide hotline) on the back
- All visitors should have to enter the school front office/single point of entry and scan their IDs in a system supervised by trained school staff members
- Implement meaningful back to school communication now and over the summer to keep all stakeholders informed regarding safety/security improvements
- The safety/security policy sheet should be distributed to parents either before but no later than at the start of school so that they can review the expectations and plans, in general
There’s no single approach to school safety that works for every campus, but these ideas are so easily achievable that officials should at least consider them for their facilities.