Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

Continued communications can overcome the barriers to safety and security.

One of the frustrations many campus safety leaders face is people who don’t know what they don’t know. Part of human nature is that we are sometimes not aware of important things that can affect us. 

Most people are not well versed on safety, security and emergency preparedness concepts that can prevent serious injury and death. This is sometimes even true for people who by their profession are more well informed about such topics. 

For example, I have met many law enforcement officers who were not aware of such powerful concepts as visual weapons screening and pattern recognition, though both of these bodies of knowledge have been successfully utilized for many years. Even more commonly, campus administrators mistakenly feel that their organizations are prepared for emergency situations because they have developed preparedness plans and conducted drills and exercises. When incidents or emergency preparedness audits demonstrate that their organizations have deadly gaps because of simple oversights, they are typically shocked. 

Campus safety professionals are frequently challenged in getting people to take the time to address safety, security and emergency preparedness gaps because they do not realize what they don’t know about these topics. They also don’t know how deadly this lack of knowledge and accompanying complacency can be. It takes continual and effective communications to overcome these unintentional barriers people often create to their own safety and the safety of their organizations.

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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