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Helping schools prioritize security options

Security is arguably the most important service that a institution can provide for its students. There is a plethora of ways in which educational institutions can address security, but for the K-12 space in particular, implementing proper measures can be a daunting and confusing task.

The Security Industry Association (SIA) and the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) know this all too well, and with the help of a host of industry stakeholders, have devised a way for schools to access the information they need to implement effective campus security measures.

The foundations of PASS

In 2013, SIA launched a working group to identify ways to enhance school security. The following year, they partnered with NSCA to bring together members of the security industry, school officials and law enforcement. The goal was to develop a coordinated approach to protect K-12 students and educators.

This collaboration formed the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) to provide insight and perspective to schools nationwide. The PASS goal is to create resources to help integrators and schools alike to implement the most appropriate and effective security technologies.

PASS’ steering committee members have played a pivotal role in the planning and drafting of the K-12 safety guidelines document. Additionally, the committee draws from a wealth of industry knowledge and experience.

“On the larger committee we have 25 people ranging from manufacturing personnel, system integrators, consultants, law enforcement, end users and organizations like Safe and Sound,” says Brett St. Pierre, HID Global’s director of education solutions and PASS chairman.

Safe and Sound is a non-profit founded by parents, educators and community members in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The organization’s founder, Michelle Gay is working with PASS to help spread the word.

A security cheat sheet

At the heart of the PASS initiative is a reality that schools across the country have to grapple with; school officials are rarely experts in physical security. With this in mind, PASS is looking to bridge that gap.

Specifically, school administrators must answer two basic questions when planning to implement security systems: What should we do? And how do we pay for it?

With this in mind, PASS has developed a document entitled, Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools.

Through these guidelines, PASS will focus on addressing both ongoing and emerging threats to students and educators and will provide education regarding security and life safety best practices. The organization will also offer guidance to educators and security professionals en route to identifying the following:

  • Guidelines and standards
  • Best practices for security technology applications
  • Technological advances
  • Skills building opportunities
  • Solutions to funding challenges.

“A lot of schools have little funding and lack knowledge of the tech out there,” says HID’s St. Pierre. “There are facilities employees that have been managing metal keys all their lives. This gives schools additional guidelines to help with things like that.”

The resources provided by PASS seek to help school officials navigate the challenges associated with security equipment and processes. Developed by experts in the security industry, with extensive input from school officials and law enforcement, the guidelines:

  • Analyze school security threats, including the numerous dangers that do not involve – and are far more common than – an active shooter
  • Outline the legal, moral and other arguments for making investments in security
  • Examine the nature of risk, risk assessment and risk mitigation
  • Explain the importance of having “layers” of security
  • Offer a unique set of guidelines containing specific recommendations for enhancing school security.
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