April 15, 2014

Does School Security Need to Conflict with Discretion?

We recently got a call from a school administrator who clearly needs security for his district.

He is in need of specifics such as security cameras (we’re doing so many upgrades for schools lately), as well as strobe lights. He needs an innovative solution which may include strobes to signal to students that are further away on campus. We enjoy designing systems such as this.

He sort of tabled our request to visit him and for us to simply provide advice (we’re not in the “selling” business with pressure applied after we meet with potential clients). We are advisors and act as a resource to help with security solutions.

By not meeting with us, he will not get to ask questions and receive advice in a no-pressure meeting and consultation. To his credit, he did say he would “pass it on” at the next quarterly meeting.

We can only assume that he has some of the following concerns, and we can do this because we’ve met with countless schools who have the same, valid concerns.

With all that has occurred at schools in recent years, do we want to further concern the children, parents and staff by installing an over-abundance of daunting security cameras, etc? Or does this action actually soothe people more?

This can go either way, but our experience is, that administrators don’t want an overwhelming display of security due to the former mentioned above.

Schools quite often have metal detectors at the entrances nowadays. So how could some extra security cameras be worse than that?

The answer is, we can install security cameras in discreet fashion. We can even install covert (hidden) cameras.

As for protection of the staff and children, highly discreet measures can be taken such as installing panic buttons under desks and supplying staff with universal keys.

These allow for any staff to jump into a class or other room, and lock any door from the inside with his or her key.

It can be set up also, so that staff can immediately and with the swipe of one access card, set all the doors of the school into an emergency lock down.

Also discreet are the tiny camera lenses that are housed in video-intercom metal plates that are affixed to the building near entrances. This video-intercom allows office staff to not only screen a person, but to see his or her demeanor and current state.

This writer needs to highlight one more issue before he signs off. Does it have to be “zero sum”? All or nothing? Of course not.

Administrators don’t want a “prison-like” atmosphere in their schools. But at the expense of what? Should you take no action because this is your concern? Or should you meet with an expert who does this consulting and installation for scores and scores of school systems?

I say the latter.


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