4 Warning Signs a Visitor Could Act Out

Training staff how to detect these cues can help to augment security equipment.

Simple steps can often dramatically improve the reliability of school security technologies like “buzzer” access control systems. Training school employees to look and listen for behavioral cues that can indicate danger can provide staff with an increased comfort level.  This can also significantly improve the reliability of screening efforts.

For example, we can train school staff to look for tangible indications of potential trouble when they have video and voice communications with a visitor such as:

  1. Indications that the person(s) are angry (for more information on this topic, read 8 Verbal Indicators of Violence and How to Identify Nonverbal Indicators of Violence)
  2. Indications that the person(s) are intoxicated (for more information, read Expecting the Unexpected and Possible Medical Causes of Abnormal Subject Behavior)
  3. Indications of possible mental illness (for more information, read The Warning Signs of Suicide)
  4. Visible signs that the person is or may be carrying a weapon (for more information, read 7 Signs A Weapon Is Being Concealed)

In addition to these tangible indicators that a visitor may pose a problem, school employees can be trained to utilize a research based concept known as pattern matching and recognition.  By looking for patterns of behavior and/or statements that are out of context for the situation and the experiences of screening staff members with other visitors, school staff can determine that additional screening or assistance from an administrator, law enforcement or security personnel is appropriate.  

There is a considerable body of research that indicates that this aspect of visitor screening can be as important to the detection of danger as the more tangible indicators listed above.

While far from a complete treatment of visitor screening concepts, these tips do provide a good foundation for personnel who do not have the opportunity to attend a live training program on visitor screening techniques.

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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 [email protected]. 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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