- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Dec 24, 2013
Sometimes the media is just plain embarrassing.
The good people of Newtown, Conn. have
pleaded with the media to stay away during the
first year anniversary of the now infamous shooting
at the elementary school. Has anything changed so
significantly that the national media feels it must descend
upon the village and try to cover new ground?
Sometimes, however, the media gets it.
For the most part, many media outlets stayed away
from Newtown; even CNN, which had a major presence
in the community a year ago, did not send anyone
to fish or dig for more information.
The media apparently got the message prior to the
anniversary when Newtown First Selectman Patricia
Llodra sent a message to the national and international
media asking them to stay away.
There are numerous ways to cover this story without
I think everyone gets the message. There is still a
great need for school security, and many schools have
gotten the message and the money in order to make
changes. According to a report from HIS Technology,
an analyst firm delving into the security industry, the
market size for security equipment in schools reached
$634 million in 2013, and is expected to surpass $720
million this year.
Sandy Hook officials prepared for an influx of traffic
and had extra police on duty around the anniversary.
“Our village of Sandy Hook was harmed almost
irreparably by the chokehold that media traffic had
on us for 10 days during the buying season of the
year,” Llorda said. “And there is the emotional impact—
clearly to be reminded in such a stark way of
this horrible anniversary—we don’t need this. We live
this every day; we know what happened here.”
People will never forget about Sandy Hook, just
like Columbine will never go away. The fact is that
high-profile shootings partially impact spending for
school security. There is usually a spike in spending
and budgets following these types of events.
IHS points out in its research that, in many cases,
funding continues to be a barrier of growth to the expanded
use of security equipment, though additional
funds have become available for schools through statefunding
programs. The Department of Justice is helping
pay for additional officers by awarding $45 million
from Community Oriented Policing Services grants,
which also includes Secure Our Schools programs.
It is true that effective security comes from having
effective policies in place and then leveraging the security
system already deployed. Video surveillance acts
as a force multiplier, giving campus officers greater
visibility, either through having more cameras on campus,
or by being more intelligent and combining access
control and video surveillance technologies.
According to HIS, video surveillance will grow in
schools twice as fast as that of access control through
2017. Analysts say that there are several critical success
factors that decisionmakers look for in a security
solution, including user-friendliness, integration,
safety and reliability.
Events such as Sandy Hook have forced schools
to review their existing policies and create threat assessments,
including new policies and procedures.
Presently, there is no standard in place for what
schools need to do to prevent these tragedies. Long
after events like Sandy Hook take place, media coverage
fades; however, ongoing discussions and security
reviews should continue where knowledge is
shared between school districts and universities by
sharing best practices.
What should schools be doing in the case of security
programs? According to HIS, “Schools need
to continue to develop independent security plans
and develop automated approaches when able. But,
schools also shouldn’t forget other means of security
such as stronger windows and doors.
“At Sandy Hook, there was access control in place
but the shooter was able to break through the glass to
gain entry to the building. So while video and access
provide a good starting point for a high level of security,
having several layers of security help schools take
a step in the right direction to prevent a tragedy like
this from happening again.”
Money will likely be spent on a case by case basis,
and this is perfect for dealers and integrators who have
key relationships with school districts. Their input and
expertise would help bring about interactive solutions
between staff and first responders. Video used in real
time is more crucial than just using it for forensics.
Having video cameras on the perimeter of the school
building also can be a deterrent in some cases.
IHS analysts say that having video surveillance in
place is crucial, but having people in place who can
quickly respond to a situation is equally important.
In this industry, we can’t stress security enough,
particularly to the education community. Protecting
our children is, or should be, a top priority. Many
school officials I have talked to are aware of their responsibility
to protect their students. You can help by
imparting your knowledge of security systems and
solutions at every opportunity.
This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Security Today.