Wren Offers Top 10 Steps For Campus Administrators To Improve Security

To help administrators in need of a quick security review, Wren has developed a Top 10 list of things to do to improve campus security.

Historical Lessons. What do documented problems from the past tell you about potential security gaps? Have those gaps been closed over the summer or will you need to make changes now to improve safety? Anticipate having problems recur if you do nothing to mitigate them.  Ask yourself, “What improvements can I make to improve our safety & security posture over the previous years?”

Traffic Management/Safety. Consider all of the ways cars, trucks, buses, and pedestrians move in and out of your campus and then identify the high risk areas.  What is the volume of local traffic on the roads within 1,000 feet of the school grounds? Is there a turn lane to help facilitate easy access onto the campus? Are there adequate signs to denote a School Zone? Do traffic signals need to be added? Can pedestrians safely cross streets? Should anything, such as shrubs or signs, be moved away from intersections to eliminate blind spots? Based on these questions, administrators can determine problem areas and resolve to make enhancements to improve safety on the roads in and around the campus.

Parking Lots. Since parking lots are typically places where crimes such as assault & vandalism can occur, administrators need to pay special attention to these areas, especially if students and staff are using public street parking. Parking considerations include pedestrian safety for getting from vehicles to buildings. Considerations should be made for lighting, security cameras, call boxes in parking lots, and foot or vehicle patrol by security officers.  Are crosswalks provided to help guide pedestrians and inform drivers to proceed with caution? Do speed bumps need to be installed? Have any potential ‘hiding spots’ been removed, such as shrubbery? Conduct both a driving and walking tour of parking areas to help illuminate any potential hazards. Implement action to improve parking lot safety.

Signage. From the entry at the perimeter of your campus all the way down to the hallways in the buildings, identity, directional and regulatory signs should be utilized to inform people of building locations, speed limits, parking areas, pedestrian crossing and rooms. In addition, penalty enhancement signs, such as “Drug-Free Zone” can be useful in sending a clear message that certain activities such as speeding, drug use, and firearms, are not tolerated. Signs that inform the public that video surveillance is in use will deter some unwanted behaviors, but don’t post them unless there are working cameras in place.  A final step in assessing all campus signage is to ensure that signs near roadways do not block views or create blind spots.

Exterior Barrier Check. This step in the assessment encompasses an analysis of the condition of all exterior barriers, from fences to doors to windows. Not only do administrators need to check to see if these barriers are in place, but the more important question is are they in good working condition or do they need repair or replacement. Damaged, rusting or fallen fences denote “soft targets” that actually attract unwanted behaviors. A check of all doors and windows should also be done to identify damages that pose a risk, such as sticking doors, broken window panes or malfunctioning locks.

Access Control System Check/Optimization. The beginning of the school year is the optimal time to ensure all equipment is not only operational, but updated with the most current information. Do all users have the correct access rights? Have temporary or visitor credentials been taken out of the system? Has the system been properly programmed with the new school and holiday schedule?

Video System Check and Optimization. Validating that video systems operate properly, and that they are still effective are key steps to take. Check the shot from every camera. Do they all work? Are they focused properly? Have the trees grown over the summer and now block the camera’s view? Administrators should consider, from the historical review (Step 1 of this process) if any new cameras should be installed in areas where past security problems have occurred. Also look at areas of expansion such as a new parking lot or the addition of modular classrooms that now require additional cameras or existing cameras to be redeployed.

Address Attractive Nuisances. An attractive nuisance is something that attracts children but also endangers their safety, such as abandoned cars, unfenced swimming pools, open pits, farm equipment and water retention ponds. Are there attractive nuisances within 1,000 feet of the school grounds that create opportunities for personal injury, criminal activities or concerns for personal safety? If so, remove or install barriers around such items to prevent accidents or unwanted activities.

Consider Budget Cuts. Practically every school in America is facing budget cuts. However, administrators are urged not to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach to security. Small, incremental steps that don’t necessarily require big budgets can have a lasting impact on safety. In some instances, administrators may only need to make adjustments to policies to improve security at the school. 

Update Resources List. The final step in your assessment pertains to having a quickly accessible list of emergency resources. The beginning of the school year is a good time to reach out and make an introduction or get reacquainted with local law enforcement, emergency responders and firefighters.

By looking at these 10 areas, administrators can improve security and reduce liability in areas that are the most common source of security and safety issues in schools.

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