Hot Time in Atlanta
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Sep 01, 2014
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
“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
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
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
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
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Security Today.