Hot Time in Atlanta

There are a lot of important things about the month of September: School is underway; football has started; and it is time for ASIS. With children going back to school, security should be in the forefront of everyone’s mind. Good security breeds a prosperous learning environment. Children deserve that.

“Even the best security plans can be undone without proper policies and procedures,” said Patrick Fiel, PVF Security Consulting. “Faculty and staff need training to use the equipment, challenge unknown visitors, and to keep the doors locked. Regular drills can reinforce these important steps.”

I’m sure there are many different approaches to school security, but when I want advice and help understanding the best solutions and plans, I generally turn to Mike Seger, director of safety and student services at the Penn-Harris-Madison (PHM) School Corporation. Seger understands what has to be done to protect everyone in a school environment. He also has the support of the administration.

“We try to be the best at everything we do,” said Dr. Jerry Thacker, school superintendent. “We employ private law enforcement along with school resource officers to keep things running smoothly. Most of all, we expect and have parental activity at all school events.”

After Columbine

There have been a lot of tragedies in the school yard nationwide over the past few years, and Thacker said that after Columbine, the school district ratcheted up its security enforcement, solutions and technology.

The thing about Penn-Harris-Madison is that they don’t do knee-jerk reactions to an event. School officials plan for and prepare for ongoing upgrades. The corporation earmarks money every year to make safety and security more relevant and noticeable.

As school is back in session, all threats are to be taken seriously, because no one is immune from an incident.

All this leads me to ASIS 2014, Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, in Atlanta, and it promises to be one heck-of-a-good tradeshow for security professionals, the education vertical and otherwise.

Let’s start with the keynote addresses at this year’s event. The Tuesday session will feature Jon Huntsman, Jr., former governor from Utah and a presidential candidate a couple years ago. Huntsman also has served as the U.S. Ambassador to China.

He is smart and savvy, and he should pique everyone’s interest not only in politics, but security measures as well.

On Wednesday, the keynote will be Colin L. Powell, Army four-star general (retired), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, and National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan. Powell has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among other distinguished ribbons and citations.

New Products, Cutting-Edge Technology and Football

On the tradeshow floor, you will discover the hottest, most innovative solutions in the security market. I promise there will be hundreds of companies displaying their wares, products and services. From all the people I’ve talked to during the last couple of months, there will be lots of new technology—some of it cutting edge.

I have to say, I’m always amused by the one person who will say to me, “We’re the only ones doing this.” It doesn’t really matter, I suppose, because there will be more products than any of us have time to see. Wander the rows upon rows of exhibits, and I’m sure you will find something of great interest. ASIS is a great opportunity to get all the information you need. Better yet, it’s all in one place.

Now, a little bit about football. Almost everyone loves football. Like any venue or event, security is important. Stadiums all across the nation have installed security equipment to help the flow of fans, or catch someone doing something evil.

About a year ago, I took a tour of the Kentucky Speedway. Located near Louisville, the track and surrounding property is outfitted with the latest cameras and equipment. Track security officials I’ve talked with weren’t so much worried about security inside the track area, but losing a child whether by accident or criminal intent was top of mind.

Football stadiums are the same way. Cameras keep an eye on the people who frequent the stadium for purposes of being a fan, but also for others who have malicious things on their minds.

The Highest Priority

Back to Jerry Thacker and the schools. Penn-Harris- Madison officials keep the lines of communication open when it comes to security. This makes the student learning process safer and more secure. It also gives students the opportunity to learn without fear of a high-profile incident.

Thacker’s point is to guarantee that every student feels valued and significant, and that they are physically and psychologically safe to achieve the goal of ensuring that students are able to focus completely on school, enabling them to excel.

Thacker, Seger and PHM schools are the cream of the crop.

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Security Today.

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