How Security Can Pay for Itself

At Channel Islands High School, improved access control and the incorporation of CPTED led directly to a safer environment, which discouraged student absenteeism and the costs associated with crime.

Security may be the most fundamentally misunderstood discipline in American education. Few educators can define it, and fewer still can create a program that fully realizes its potential.

Administrators see security programs as cost-centered expenditures that compete directly for scarce funding with the school’s primary mission: education. Properly designed security programs, however, can actually produce a generous return on investment (ROI) and become critical support for the school’s educational efforts. Channel Islands High School (CIHS), located in Oxnard, Calif., is just one institution that has experienced how the right security measures can generate revenue, as well as positively transform the culture of a campus. CIHS was considered the most problematic of all 10 campuses in its district. Administrators vigorously implemented recommendations made by outside consultants, and their investment is still paying dividends in a variety of surprising ways.

Vandalism, Graffiti Plagued the Campus
The initial assessment at CIHS determined that the greatest problems were related to the lack of effective access control and the deteriorating condition of the campus. Poor access control resulted in the school being vandalized on a regular basis.

According to Assistant Superintendent Randy Winton, maintenance staff spent at least two hours each morning cleaning up graffiti. That didn’t include the broken windows and other serious acts of vandalism.

There is a theory that building deterioration, such as broken windows, has a tendency to empower vandals and accelerate neighborhood decline. Persons who might defend their neighborhood just give up. This phenomenon was in play at CIHS in a fear-dominated environment with vandalism, fights, drug use and other crimes.

Access Control, CPTED to the Rescue
The security survey recommended two primary security solutions for this campus. First, an effective perimeter and access control system was designed to improve supervision. This involved an attractive fence to deter unauthorized entry or exit from the campus by cutting or climbing.

The fence divided the campus into three sections: the core campus, the physical education facilities, and the track and athletic fields. This design allowed any one of these three sections to be opened while the others remained closed and safe from vandalism. It also allowed students to be contained in the core campus area during lunch, where they could be adequately supervised. Student access into other areas could now be easily controlled.

The second part of the plan incorporated Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). This involved a revitalization of the campus, including improved lighting and the elimination of potential hiding places and campus features that blocked the ability to see clearly into all areas. This included the removal of storage containers and a landscaping effort that reduced tree canopies and hedges blocking visibility.

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About the Author


Jim Grayson is a senior security consultant. His career spans more than 35 years in law enforcement and security consulting. He worked for UCLA on a workplace violence study involving hospitals, schools and small retail environments and consulted with NIOSH on a retail violence prevention study.Grayson’s diverse project experience includes schools, universities, hospitals, municipal buildings, high-rise structures and downtown revitalization projects. He holds a degree in criminal justice and a CPP security management credential from ASIS. He is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on a wide range of security topics.He can be reached 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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