Physical Security’s Role in a K-12 Environment

SafePlans CEO Brad Spicer offered tips to help K-12 schools enhance overall safety on campus during the 2014 Campus Safety Conference.
Published: July 31, 2014

LOS ANGELES – The role of physical security in the K-12 environment was the hot topic during the “Components of a Safe School Entrance” breakout session at the 2014 Campus Safety Conference held at the University of Southern California.

The 45-minute session, led by Brad Spicer, CEO of SafePlans, a national homeland security consulting firm, outlined strategies to enhance main entrances and the overall safety of school campuses.

During the session, Spicer explained Jeff Cooper’s Color Code, which he said has nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels, but rather with one’s mental state of readiness. Code levels include:

White: Unaware and unprepared.

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Yellow: Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation.

Orange: Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has your attention.

Red: Condition Red is fight. Your mental trigger (established back in Condition Orange) has been tripped.

Condition Black (developed by the United States Marine Corp.): Catastrophic breakdown of mental and physical performance.

However, he advised school administrators not to always operate on Code Orange or Red, as though they are on a protection detail.

“We don’t want people to think that every untucked shirt is a gun and every bag is a bomb,” he said. “We just want [schools] in code yellow – prepared, alert and relaxed. Just good situational awareness.”

When it comes to physical security at K-12 campus, Spicer advises administrators to take a layered approach and not rely solely on technology.

“We shouldn’t take the viewpoint of physical security of that’s all that’s needed,” he explained. “People are the answer; people will help respond. Physical security is a tool, but it shouldn’t be viewed as the end all.”

So, what exactly should schools do to enhance main entrance security? Listed below are a few recommendations that Spicer offered during the session:

  • Access control measures should be able to reasonably resist a committed attack
  • Schools should keep windows used for natural light at least 72 inches off the ground
  • If windows must touch the ground, try to keep them narrow
  • Install shatter resistant security window film. If properly installed, it makes it harder for intruders to enter the premises
  • Districts and public safety agencies should integrate video surveillance into their intruder response
  • Make sure law enforcement has remote access to video feeds
  • If possible, every classroom should be lockable from the inside
  • Classrooms should remain locked when plausible
  • Panic alarms need to be practiced and vetted with local law enforcement
  • Plans and training should not be based on the top-down alerts
  • Make sure all visitors display proper identification before walking onto campus grounds

Are you currently implementing those strategies at your campus? What is your school currently doing to increase security on campus? Leave your comments below!


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