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What Should Be Our First Steps?

Posted by: Erik L. Ballinger

This post is not a debate on gun rights. We continue to be reminded in the daily news that we live in a society with people wishing to do harm to our children in our schools. Assuming that this will not change in the immediate future, what should our schools be doing to protect our kids? From my experience talking with school administrators, school safety and security specialists, and other parents, it is widely acknowledged that we are not doing what needs to be done. The “why’s” range from a discussion of difficulty, a “can’t happen here attitude”, competing resources, but most often, budget restrictions.

Most school districts are under immense fiscal pressure during a time when school security needs should be examined and acted upon. Districts need to first assess where they are today in regards to simple things like Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), training, and an awareness of vulnerabilities. For an education organization to determine this “As Is” environment, the cost can be negligible compared to an overall budget, price per child, or any other monetary metric. From this initial As-Is environment, data-driven decisions on future upgrades can be intelligently made. Most organizations currently invest in what they can afford today, opting to downplay what really needs to be done to keep kids safe. Also, looking across the district or state can appropriately focus resources where they are most needed based on the threat, location, or crime statistics.

MB&A has developed the Extensible Assessment Manager (ExAM) to be able to schedule, conduct mobile inspections, collaborate and communicate, and analyze inspection data. This affordable software is currently being used in schools districts from California to Virginia. Administrators should be demanding to know exactly where they stand from a security perspective, rather than rely on a “it won’t happen here, hopefully” attitude.