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How We Can Make Schools Safer

Here are 36 ideas to help boost school safety.

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When I caught wind of the unthinkable massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., it scrambled my mind, broke my heart, sickened my stomach and weakened my knees. At the height of the holiday season and having my own child in grade school made it hit home that much harder. Like most people, cutting through those emotions was outrage that something so horrific and senseless could not be prevented. Then the grim realization such incidents could probably not be eradicated, but ultimately the hope and resolve to lessen their likelihood. At the core of that resolve is the security industry and its role in helping make schools safer.  

I spoke with several security professionals experienced in the K-12 market about how this event is impacting their businesses. Taking the time to participate was Aaron Alexander, Security 101; Dan Budinoff, Security Specialists; Jim Gingo, TransTech Systems; Shandon Harbour, SDA Security; Matthew Ladd, The Protection Bureau; Berkly Trumbo, Siemens Industry Inc.; and Eric Yunag, Dakota Security Systems.

Most say their companies have seen a rise in inquiries since the shooting. “The event surely has prompted schools throughout the area to be on high alert and jumping on additional security measures,” Budinoff, whose office is in nearby Stamford, Conn., told me. When I asked Harbour, a former teacher, about solutions that could help prevent such bloodshed, she spoke of the situation’s complexity: “Creating a fully integrated lockdown really becomes an issue of our free and open society.”

Here is a summary of the best systems/services and practices to recommend to schools, and success tips:


  • Cloud-based security as a service (SaaS) monitoring
  • Mass notification
  • Perimeter security and surveillance
  • Physical security information management (PSIM) for entire districts
  • Intercom/door release for identification of visitors
  • Access control with campus lockdown
  • Visitor management with live predator database to replace paper logbooks and scan driver’s licenses
  • IP video cameras
  • Timed locking hardware
  • Emergency call stations
  • Alarm monitoring of duress buttons
  • Video monitoring and recording systems
  • Access control auditing entered into database
  • Security site assessments
  • Metal detectors
  • Wireless duress pendants

Best Practices

  • Lock exterior doors at start of school day, have “waiting lobby” for guests/students with camera/intercom to prevent entry
  • Use visitor management system to prevent unauthorized people from roaming school
  • Educate students not to let anyone in any door and prevent tailgating at main door
  • Mass notification to tell people what is going on
  • Full perimeter lockdown including main entrance
  • Picture badges for all faculty and staff
  • Rings/layers of security throughout
  • Mobile communication apps for parents
  • Lock classrooms during class
  • Facility locked down during learning hours
  • Emergency response training for staff

Success Tips

  • Develop rapport with school administrators
  • Understand existing policies/practices and planned changes; implement complementary systems
  • Create program to maintain systems; train new staff on its operation
  • Collaborate with school and police in a joint effort 
  • Work directly with those responsible for security; help develop scope and plan of implementation 
  • Create relationships with decision makers
  • Listen, empathize and do what’s right
  • Start any project with the end in mind
  • Build trust in your ability and knowledge

For more on this topic, see SSI Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine’s associated Under Surveillance blog post.

Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 14 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125 or

Article Topics
Business Management · Vertical Markets · Between Us Pros · Dakota Security Systems · Dan Budinoff · Education Market · Eric Yunag · Jim Gingo · All Topics

About the Author
Scott Goldfine
Scott joined SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in October 1998 and has distinguished himself by producing award-winning, exemplary work. His editorial achievements have included blockbuster articles featuring major industry executives, such as Tyco Electronic Products Group Managing Director Gerry Head; Protection One President/CEO Richard Ginsburg; former Brink’s Home Security President/CEO Peter Michel; GE Interlogix President/CEO Ken Boyda; Bosch Security Systems President/CEO Peter Ribinski; and former SecurityLink President/CEO Jim Covert. Scott, who is an NTS Certified alarm technician, has become a respected and in-demand speaker at security industry events, including presentations at the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Annual Meeting; California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer and Winter Conferences; PSA Security Network Conference; International Security Conference and Exhibition (ISC); and Security Industry Association (SIA) Forum. Scott often acts as an ambassador to mainstream media and is a participant in several industry associations. His previous experience as a cable-TV technician/installer and running his own audio company -- along with a lifelong fascination with electronics and computers -- prepared Scott well for his current position. Since graduating in 1986 with honors from California State University, Northridge with a degree in Radio-Television- Film, his professional endeavors have encompassed magazines, radio, TV, film, records, teletext, books, the Internet and more. In 2005, Scott captured the prestigious Western Publisher Maggie Award for Best Interview/Profile Trade for "9/11 Hero Tells Tale of Loses, Lessons," his October 2004 interview with former FDNY Commander Richard Picciotto, the last man to escape the Ground Zero destruction alive.
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Between Us Pros, Dakota Security Systems, Dan Budinoff, Education Market, Eric Yunag, Jim Gingo, Matthew Ladd