Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Recommends Myriad School Security Upgrades

Recommendations pertaining to school design, access control, emergency plans, training, video surveillance and first responder participation directly apply to K-12 and higher ed institutions.

Today the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission unveiled an interim report outlining ways it believes school gun violence can be reduced in our country.

Although some of the suggestions involving firearms, ammunition and background checks for the purchase of guns will need to be debated by our society as a whole, other recommendations pertaining to school design, access control, emergency plans, training, video surveillance and first responder participation directly apply to Campus Safety’s K-12 and higher ed readers.

“The Commission believes that K-12 schools, licensed day care centers, and institutions of higher learning should undertake a process to determine minimum design standards for safety, although it recognizes that the implementation of a robust security program in a licensed daycare facility is very different from implementation of a robust security program at a college campus” the report claims.

It goes on to recommend the following:

  • Requiring that all classrooms in K-12 schools be equipped with locking doors that can be locked from the inside by the classroom teacher or substitute. These doors should also be compliant with building code, fire safety code, and other regulations as required.
  • Requiring that all exterior doors in K-12 schools be equipped with hardware capable of implementing a full perimeter lockdown.
  • Develop common threat and risk assessment security recommendations (TRASR) as well as a uniform process to develop an emergency response plan. This tool would be applied to all facilities and provide a common planning and assessment baseline for all schools, public and private. The TRASER should be able to be applied, in a site-specific fashion, to all schools and daycare centers in the state of Connecticut. Districts would be required to perform a TRASR within 12 months of its availability and review/update it every three to five years.
  • Requiring that schools, utilizing information developed using the TRASR tool as well as through input from relevant stakeholders, develop an Emergency Response Plan (ERP).
  • Requiring that all schools develop a Safe Schools Plan (SSP) that incorporates the TRASR, ERP, security policies, building design elements, staff responsibilities during emergencies, and other critical pieces of information.
  • Requiring that every school establish a Safe Schools Planning Committee charged with oversight of safety and security issues as well as ensuring compliance with time lines affiliated with the TRASR, ERP and SSP.
  • Requiring that the ERPs submitted to DESPP Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security by institutes of higher learning be not only collected by DESPP Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, but also reviewed and approved by that agency.
  • Assigning a full-time emergency planner at DESPP Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to review and comment on submissions as well as assist schools and school districts, as necessary, with the preparation of emergency plans.
  • Implementing a program that requires each school provide local police, fire, and emergency response personnel with up-to-date copies of building floor plans, blueprints, schematics of school interiors, grounds, road maps of the surrounding area, evacuation routes, alternative evacuation routes, shelter site, procedures for addressing medical needs, transportation, and emergency notification to parents. Efforts should be made to digitize plans and schematics to assist in dissemination in case of emergency.
  • Requiring school facilities to evaluate cell phone coverage throughout the facilities and grounds and make reasonable efforts to address deficiencies while, at the same time, reinforcing school policies on cell phone usage during non-emergencies.
  • Encouraging the deployment of enhanced WiFi in schools and the usage of IP-enabled cameras (to support response capacity), with special attention to perimeter security and areas of assembly
  • Developing recommendations for design and retrofit of schools.
  • Modifying State Construction Grant applications to include a new category of project: SU/Security Upgrades.
  • Requiring that the School Facility Survey (ED050) incorporate security criteria.
  • Requiring School Building Committees engaged in construction or renovation projects to seek input and comment from local first responders.
  • Developing a security training course specifically for school staff, as well as requiring NIMS and ICS training.
  • Developing a trusted access program (TAP) for visitor management
  • Requiring background screening for all school staff
  • Developing a best practices guide for bullying and threat assessment

Read the report.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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