Did They Get the Word?

Campuses must create consistency through effective communications.

One recurring problem in campus organizations is that it is quite common for some or many employees to be unfamiliar with key safety polices, emergency procedures and other and potentially life and death information at any moment. 

For example, in one large school district, every principal and assistant principal received excellent training from a nationally recognized expert in student threat assessment.  The district created a viable threat assessment team and procedures. A few years later, the district encountered a situation where a new principal who had not attended the training failed to notify the threat assessment team after a student communicated a threat.  In short, the entire system that had been developed with great effort and at considerable expense failed because one employee did not get the word. Fortunately, no one was hurt, although the district did get some bad press over the failure.

Unfortunately, there are also many instances where someone gets hurt or is killed because one or more employees do not receive appropriate information. Campus organizations should develop reasonably reliable systems to help campus safety professionals verify and track which employees have completed safety training, have reviewed safety policies, have been issued emergency plan components and other key safety activities. 

While paper tracking systems can be effective, the cost of Web-based tracking tools is now so low that this is a much less expensive option for most campus organizations. A robust system with a Web test  capability can now be licensed for about $6,000 for even the largest school systems and universities in the nation. Many campus organizations have the capability to develop their own Web – based tracking systems and sometimes even already have suitable systems in place that can be adapted to this.

Campus safety leaders can now inexpensively harness the power of the computer to track and verify the exchange of information between their organization and its people quickly and easily at a low cost. The improvements in safety, security and emergency preparedness that can be achieved are priceless. 

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About the Author

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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 mike@weakfish.org. 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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