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Articles: Surveillance

Since 2013, 156 shootings had rattled nerves, and had injured or killed students and staff members in both K12 schools and colleges.

Mass shootings in the United States have tripled since 2011, according to Harvard University researchers. And as of late October, 29 shootings took place in K12 schools this year.

Since 2013, 156 shootings had rattled nerves, and had injured or killed students and staff members in both K12 schools and colleges, according to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. In some cases, a gun was fired but no one was injured, the group reports.

Ken Donovan, facilities/security manager at Stonington Public Schools in Connecticut, shows off a school’s lockdown emergency button. When pushed, the button will lock the doors, bar access to other floors, issue an audible warning that an intruder is present and alert to local police cruisers.

School administrators across the country are turning to portable panic buttons, cloud-based crisis management systems and other technology in the search for new ways to keep students and staff safe. The price tag can run from a few thousand dollars to well into six figures, but administrators say the cost is worth it.

SROs like Kevin Quinn, above, past president of the National Association of School Resource Officers, teach lessons as part of the job.

Districts working to prevent mass shootings and other violent campus attacks are hiring more school resource officers to patrol their buildings, particularly at the elementary level. These SROs, elevated from a more passive role, are now an integral part of school safety planning.

Districts including San Diego USD received a mine-resistent ambush protected vehicle like this one from a federal program that provides surplus military equipment to local police. (Photo: Creative Commons: U.S. Navy)

Grenade launchers and M16s are some of the weapons school districts are now giving back to the U.S. government. Now, amid widespread criticism, some districts have returned the weapons to the military.

KeepNTrack software scans each visitor’s driver’s license and runs a check through a sexual predator database for all 50 states.

Administrators at Brevard County Public Schools in Florida have enhanced security this school year with a new system that automatically runs sexual predator checks on all visitors and streamlines the process for volunteers.

Ocularis Mobile by On-Net Surveillance Systems Inc.
Micro Dome Full HD Network Cameras by Canon
Summit Series 960H Super-Res DVRs by FLIR
M2014-E Network Camera by Axis Communications
FlexiDome Starlight HD 720p Camera by Bosch
IS-IP14K by Sentry360
Plug & Play NVRs by Speco Technologies

School administrators know they need to try to stop violence before it happens. Having the proper surveillance equipment can help district leaders keep a watchful eye over students and prevent the wrong people from entering a building.

When upgrading security, can districts afford to wait the weeks or months the purchasing process sometimes takes? A widely available but not very well-known funding option can speed things up.

We know there is a sense of urgency around funding safer schools—just think about the title of President Obama’s school safety plan: Now is the Time! The good news is that for district leaders who are willing to explore a new purchasing method, time and cost savings may be on the way.

Newtown Public Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson gives a news briefing last January about Monroe’s Chalk Hill School, where the Sandy Hook Elementary School children are continuing their education this school year.

Last December, the small town of Newtown, Conn., was forever changed. The students, staff, parents, and community members of Newtown (Conn.) Public Schools were traumatized on Dec. 14, 2012, when lone gunman and former student Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Prior to Dec. 14, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) had its 2013 agenda set. However, like many others in the K12 education community, on that dreadful day of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn, CAPSS’ priorities changed. We spoke with Executive Director Joe Cirasuolo about how the association has redirected its efforts this year to focus on helping administrators improve their crisis management systems and strategies to help prevent an attack such as the one in Newtown from happening again.

On Friday, December 14, 2012, as our January 2013 issue was about to be published, we received the horrifying news with the rest of the world about the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a community just 35 miles from our office. Several staff members have ties to the town and the children of a colleague are students at the school. But while we were relieved that our colleague’s children were safe, we were grief-stricken at the loss of so many others.

NBC flew Kenneth S. Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, to Connecticut the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings for a live interview on The Today Show. He provided a number of cable news interviews throughout the day. “Nothing was more powerful than seeing firsthand the shell-shocked faces of Newtown’s residents and the images of a picture-perfect American community that will be forever changed,” Trump said. The following are his thoughts for district administrators.

Update: The hearing scheduled for Nov. 28 on Andrea Hernandez’s request to stay at John Jay High School was cancelled, after Northside ISD filed a motion to move the case from state to federal court. The district issued the following statement: “Since the Jay High School student and her father are alleging a violation of the student's federal constitutional rights, Northside ISD asked that the case be heard in federal court. The case scheduled to be heard today in State court has been canceled and now will rest with a Federal judge to make a ruling.

Visitor management programs and software are a growing trend in K12 schools, according to Chuck Hibbert, a national school security consultant and the retired director of security for Wayne Township Schools in Indianapolis. In some districts, schools are using additional software that checks visitors against sexual predator and/or criminal databases. One of the more popular programs is Raptorware by Raptor Technologies.

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School principals are in the middle of a balancing act when it comes to security. They need to create a welcoming, supportive open environment for students, parents, and credible community visitors who have legitimate purposes in their buildings, while they also have to keep out individuals who potentially have “ill intentions,” says Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a national consulting firm specializing in school security and emergency preparedness training, school security assessments and school and crisis counseling services.

School board members and superintendents typically focus their safety planning and preparedness measures on school campuses, but they often overlook security and emergency planning for administration centers, board meeting sites and support facilities.

Today’s climate of economic uncertainty, school budget cuts and the growing politicization of education issues create a new level of risk for the adults running districts. Failure to take reasonable preparedness measures can lead to increased risks and the potential for greater liability.