How to Beef Up Bus Lot Security

After finding that many school bus yards are lacking preventive measures, a security expert details ways to deter would-be vandals and terrorists, from barbed-wired fencing to automated lighting to surveillance systems.

Lights, cameras …

Security lighting is another cost-effective way to reduce the chances of intrusion from unauthorized persons. Lights must turn on automatically at dusk and also during low-visibility times, such as storms. Standard dusk-to-dawn lights will generally be sufficient, but there are many other options on the market.

Do not rely on a person to turn on and off the lights. Humans are prone to forgetfulness, and if the lights are not on, they don’t do any good.

Surveillance cameras work both as a deterrent and as a way to identify individuals who enter the bus lot. When selecting a camera system, ensure the camera is designed to work outdoors and in various light conditions. Some cameras will not work at night or when the sun is directly pointed at the lens. Some cameras are motion activated, and others record activity nonstop.

Whichever camera system is used, it must have the capability to record and keep the recording for an extended period of time. Digital recorders work well.

Also, make sure the system is able to record the numerous cameras you might be using. Tamper-resistant cameras and mounts are preferred so people do not turn off or manipulate the camera video feed.

Cops and consultants

Another effective way to protect school buses is to coordinate with local law enforcement. Local police departments, sheriff departments or state police agencies will generally provide extra patrol around school bus lots if requested. However, this method should not be used alone. Having some physical security measures in place is still important.

There are many commercially manufactured products available to enhance the physical security of a bus lot. Each company will advertise its product as the most effective. Hiring an independent and unbiased security consultant can ensure your physical security program is both effective and efficient.

When security professionals are tied to a specific product or products, they will attempt to sell these products and, in turn, are not completely unbiased. A good security consultant does not attempt to sell any specific product or service. He or she will suggest various methods and products that best suit your own community.

Additionally, hiring a professional physical security consultant allows you to truly find out your current level of protection.

There are many other physical security options available for school bus lots. Beyond what I’ve covered above, a few items to consider are passive and active electronic detection systems, angled lighting and different fence materials.

Whichever systems or products a school bus operation decides to use, it is vital that a solid physical security program is established and enhanced often. Routine maintenance and checks are also needed.

Spending money on preventive measures can help thwart vandals and others with ill intentions, enhancing the security of the community and potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements.

Implement the systems that work best for you, and use them  consistently. Don’t be one of those lots that have no physical security program. Take pride in your service, and protect your buses.

Bret Brooks is a senior instructor with Gray Ram Tactical LLC, full-time state police officer, state SWAT team sniper, and captain in the U.S. Army. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and a Master of Arts degree in national security, and he has focused numerous studies on terrorism and violence. He can be reached at

Editor’s Note: This story initially ran in School Bus Fleet magazine, a sister publication of Campus Safety magazine.< /em>

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