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PASS’ guidelines for school safety, security

Industry experts, vendors provide resource for security implementation

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

A tiered approach

PASS tackles the process of security from every angle, forming a tiered approach to implementation. The group’s recommendations follow the practice of implementing security in depth, laying out solutions for property perimeters, parking lots, building perimeters, classrooms, visitor control, video surveillance and emergency notification.

Within each layer of security the recommendations are divided into Tiers, progressing from Tier 1, which provides a good baseline level of security, to Tier 4 that includes the most aggressive measures for securing a facility.

The reality, however, is that many schools won’t be able to implement Tier 4 measures, nor will many have the need to do so. The purpose of the Tiers is to provide school administrators with the necessary tools to gauge their risk level, security needs, and using their available resources, develop a security plan tailored to their school.

St. Pierre explains that the tiered structure is designed to enable a school to move between the various levels over time as budgets allow for improvements or as needs change.

For example, the needs of a school in Los Angeles may differ from those a school in rural Nebraska. “Tier 4 may be a good option for a highly populated school district,” says St. Pierre. “Likewise, Tier 4 could be excess for another environment, and on the funding side, higher Tiers may be difficult for a school to support, but you could start out at a Tier 1 and upgrade to higher tiers over time.”

A helping hand

For K-12 schools, security measures will be subject to budgets, and unless a school has unlimited resources, difficult decisions regarding how best to secure a campus and its students must be made.

The guidelines identified in PASS’ document are not intended to provide solutions for every risk and every situation, nor will it make any product-specific recommendations. The document does, however, highlight the need for administrators and public safety officials to work together, using the guidelines as a basis to assess needs and develop a risk management strategy unique to each school.

“The optimal goal is to make this a code where a school can say ‘I want a Tier 1 system,’ and the guidelines would give them the proper recommendations for that,” explains St. Pierre. “We want to help schools identify what tier they want to be at and give them specifics to make that a reality.”

That being said, SIA and NCSA stress that the ideas and recommendations detailed in the PASS guide are meant to be “living.” That is, when new risks and new approaches are identified – technical or operational – PASS will update the Tiers and general recommendations accordingly.

Physical security and campus safety make up the primary concern for parents and educators alike. Despite the undeniable need for such measures on campus, however, the process of implementing proper safety and security is a daunting one.

By providing school administrators with the valuable insight they need to make educated decisions – as backed by industry experts and stakeholders – the process can be a more manageable one. Additional information about PASS, as well as the K-12 guidelines can be found at www.passk12.org/resources.

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