School Security = Communication, Staffing, Training, & Upgrades
AEGIS Security & Investigations offers top-notch active shooter training programs specifically designed for schools, and since nearly 90 percent of California schools alone are ill-equipped and under-prepared for active shooter incidents, we are vamping up our mission to educate students, teachers and administrators on the topic.
As you can imagine, the school security business is growing rapidly. According to research by Jim Dearing, senior security analyst at IHS Markit, the education sector within the security market expanded by $2.5 billion between 2015 and 2017. See CNN’s full coverage and analysis of this school security boom here.
With school security becoming the top priority across the country, we recommend following a few essential steps in ensuring your campus is prepared for the worst case scenario.
- Make your campus a safe space for open communication between students, staff, faculty, and parents
See something, say something. That action can literally mean the difference between a relatively normal school day and a mass shooting.
Bullying is a top concern for our nation’s schools and is a leading cause for large-scale school violence such as active shooters. Per the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, when violence is witnessed, a correlation with decreased school attendance and academic performance is found across the board. Students who engage in dating violence tend to perform more poorly, earning average grades of D and F. Additionally, these students are likely to engage in risky behaviors, illegal behaviors (e.g., underage smoking, drug use, underage sexual activity) and attempt or consider suicide.
School communities should follow these anti-bullying tips and resources at each level in the chain effect of personal violence:
- See it or hear it, report it. The first step is to tell an staff member or teacher that you have witnessed someone being bullied. While it may not be easy, nor necessarily your place to get involved directly, you can make your school safer by reporting the incident to a teacher, counselor, administrator, safety officer or school staff member.
- Don’t participate in bullying. It seems simple enough, but everyone has either intentionally or accidentally fallen into some bullying moment. Sometimes we don’t like what we see, and so we make fun of people or, more harshly, lay a hand on someone out of anger. It is always best to make known your concern in a way that aims to resolve a problem before it launches into something bigger and worse.
- If you are a victim, speak up. Tell a friend. Tell a parent. Tell a teacher or a counselor or school staff member. While being bullied is scary, and “tattling” sounds like it will make matters worse, it could save your life to tell someone that you are being threatened and harmed. The next steps will be to move past a dark moment with adult guidance.
- For more tips, check out https://nobullying.com/category/teens/school-life/.
- Check in with your children. Whether they are the ones committing the bullying actions or the ones being bullied, it is important to get as much information as possible about their lives.
- If your child is being bullied, don’t react with anger. Again, this will be hard, but it will benefit you and your child to report it to school authorities to ensure the bullying stops. If it does not stop, help start a zero-tolerance policy from the parent board. In the worst case scenario, considering transferring your child to another school. Throughout the entire process, communicate with your child and ensure there is a safe space.
- If your child is the bully, don’t react with anger. It will be hard, but their lashing out is demonstrative of larger issues that need to be worked through as soon as possible. Talk to the school counselor or psychologist to work with your child. Help them see what is wrong with their actions and work toward their apology to the victim. Do not encourage further actions of violence with violence of your own, including yelling or screaming.
- If you do not know the signs of bullying, we encourage you to visit https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html. For more help, visit https://nobullying.com/category/parents/parenting-help/.
- Look for the signs of bullying. Do not ignore “gossip” about bullying and do not ignore cries for help.
- Develop a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and enforce it.
- Work with students and parents to monitor, teach and deter bullying habits on campus.
- Because bullying tends to happen on campus, including before, during and after class hours, be prepared to stop it on the spot.
- For more resources for teachers and staff, we recommend https://nobullying.com/category/teachers/resources/. For campus administrators, we encourage you to work toward preventative measures such as those suggested here.
The more open communication your campus community engages in, the more prepared your students, staff and parents will be for the worst case scenario.
- Increase campus security presence and their training
School security is a necessity for any educational institution. Reliability, professionalism, and ability to follow procedure are a must. By increasing the number of trained campus security officers at your school, you decrease the potential for lacking response to suspicious behavior and worst case scenarios.
AEGIS’ campus security officers are role models and mentors in addition to security, fostering a safe and secure environment for learning by creating and maintaining appropriate relationships with students and staff. We design and implement a strategy to enforce school rules and laws on campus by conducting a thorough site assessment, incorporating site specific and SB1626 state mandated training for all assigned personnel and by regularly re-assessing our effectiveness. By implementing solid defensible legal strategies, tactics, and technology AEGIS Security & Investigations creates and executes solutions for our clients to accomplish their campus specific safety and security objectives. For more information on AEGIS’ school campus security services, learn more here..
Additionally, have your security stay up to date with required training. With the passage of SB 1626 in 1998, California state law requires security guards in K-12 school districts or community college districts to complete a course of training developed by BSIS. The law took effect July 1, 2000, and effects guards working on school property for more than 20 hours per week. The training requirement affects only guards employed pursuant to a contract between a K-12 school district or California community college district and a private patrol operator. AEGIS has made this course available to you to take today online through out website.
All school personnel responsible for school safety and security, including principals, vice principals, counselors, and other such staff members will benefit from taking this course.
The completion of this online course helps to ensure that all school safety personnel are in compliance with state law, are prepared for what they may encounter, and will be able to handle any situations that may occur in the course of their duties.
For more information, go to http://www.bsis.ca.gov/consumers/faqs/school_security_guard.shtml.
- Prepare your staff and students with training
Ninety percent of California schools are ill-equipped and under-prepared for active shooter incidents, we are vamping up our mission to educate students, teachers and administrators on the topic. The California State Auditor released a report late last year revealing that state schools cannot handle active shooter situations in their current operations. Lack of funding combined with limited active shooter education has left K-12 public schools in California ill-prepared to handle such a situation.
AEGIS Security & Investigations offers active shooter training programs specifically designed for schools. We look at what we do in our own active shooter training and evaluate elements to prevent future shootings in similar settings. We are an experienced security team that works closely with schools in the Los Angeles area to enhance their security tactics, especially those pertaining to active shooters. Getting your campus trained can make the difference between safe evacuation and loss of life.
Whether you are in a classroom, library, science lab, on the field or in an office, the active shooter threat is real. Since the manufacturing of multiple rounds clips, detachable magazines, speed loaders for revolvers, and high capacity magazines for semi-automatic handguns, the active shooter threat has become increasingly more prevalent in society, especially in schools. With a wide variety of warning signs of a gunman, training is an absolute necessity for school security Los Angeles, including increased education for students, faculty and staff that will enhance their abilities to observe what to look for and to have the attentiveness to call the police.
Most importantly, teach the entire campus, regardless of whether you seek professional training, about run, hide, fight.
If you can get out of range of the active shooter and to safety, do so immediately — run. Leave your personal items and find a safe place quickly and quietly. Such a space needs to be out of range of the gun fire and any other potential danger related to the active shooter situation. Once you are safe, help others by preventing them from going toward the the location of the shooter. Call 911 and give them as much information as possible: provide a description of the shooter, a location of the shooter, weapons they are using, if known, and the amount of ammunition that has been used, if known.
If you cannot run, you have to hide. Unlike a fire drill where you have to drop cover and hold, or an earthquake drill where you have to take cover under sturdy tables or desks, you need to find sturdy cover and concealment. Remember there is a difference between cover and concealment. If it’s not thick and sturdy made of durable material, chances are you can hide from the bullets, but you can’t stop them. Find a room, whether it is a closet, office, classroom, or break room, and lock and barricade the door. Go somewhere where you won’t be seen. Silence your cell phone and turn off the lights.
If you cannot run or hide and danger is imminent, you have to fight. Work with other people around you to attack from all sides. Improvise weapons and use whatever you can find to stab, slash, strike, or amplify your attack. Fight with everything you have. Do not stop until the attacker is neutralized.
When law enforcement officers arrive, they will not stop to help you or other victims. Their single task is to find and neutralize the active shooter. If you can walk out on your own, do so. They’ll point you in the right direction. Wait for other police officers outside in a safe place.
Creating and practicing emergency and active shooter plans in Los Angeles can mean the difference between surviving an attack and being a victim. A professional security consultant in Los Angeles can help your organization protect itself.
The civilian active shooter training provided by AEGIS is intended to build on “run, hide, fight,” the long-standing method of saving yourself in these events. Workshops run from an hour to several hours dependent on the needs of the organization and individuals. Our most highly sought after workplace violence training program is our one-hour plus add-on Run, Hide, Fight Live Fire Demo; participants begin with a lecture and basic training on how to handle the situation and are then exposed to sample scenarios in which they practice those same skills.
Throughout the school year, be sure your campus holds lockdown drills so students and staff alike are prepared for a worst case scenario. You should review any PA/announcement protocol with the entire school along with actions that should be taken. This will provide you with an opportunity to test your notification system and ensure classrooms have necessary materials to lock doors, cover windows, and create barricades.
When conducting the campus lockdown, have instructors and administrators run through a list of “to-do’s” with students. Such a list should include:
- Get into a room and lock all doors (review where to run to and hide if a student is out of the classroom)
- Cover windows
- Lock doors
- Turn out lights
- Silence cell phones
- Position students behind barricades, if possible (discuss what this would look like and what can be used)
- Calm and quiet students
- Have a security expert from AEGIS conduct a security assessment of your camps or facility.
AEGIS conducts thorough investigations of all factors relevant to assessing vulnerabilities and potential threats. Analysis of risk considers present security plans, operational procedures, emergency action plans, physical response capability, and first responder expectations. After identifying risks, AEGIS security consultants will recommend specific improvements to mitigate those risks to the extent possible. We will assist through all levels of implementation if required. This process may be applied internally in accordance with best practices or externally for the purposes of creating, submitting, and obtaining conditional use permits.
See this article by an LAPD police sergeant for more thoughts on how to make your school safer.
AEGIS Security & Investigations is a Los Angeles region company that is licensed and insured in the State of California to provide high-end armed and unarmed regular and temporary off-duty police officers, bodyguards, security officers, loss prevention agents, and event staff. Additionally, we offer services for private investigation, consultation, people locates, and background investigations. Our trainings and workshops in the field of security licensure and counter-terrorism have been featured in news media and are renowned for their efficacy. For more information or to contact us, visit www.aegis.com.
By: Chelsea Turner & Jeff Zisner