SCHOOL’S OUT – SO WHO’S PROTECTING THE SCHOOL?
For ten months of the year, most schools pulsate with students during the day and community events at night. Security strategies in this case are as much focused on protecting the people inside as they are on protecting the school itself.
That changes when summer hits, students leave and community groups take a break. Suddenly, tens of thousands of square feet of real estate – not to mention expensive equipment – are left alone for long stretches at a time.
In these cases, security strategies should squarely focus on physical asset protection and, by extension, access control.
After all, just because students spent months dreaming of leaving school for summer doesn’t mean that everyone wants out. Some people will want in, illegally, for many reasons. And the long, hot summer days may be deemed by these people as the perfect time to slip inside and cause damage, steal equipment and/or loiter.
Here are a few things school boards can do to protect their schools during summer breaks:
1. Invest in CCTV cameras … CCTV Cameras provide “eyes on the school” at all times when the cameras are properly monitored. This helps protect to the school, especially when security teams are near by in the event of a problem.
The Halton Catholic School Board is considering installing CCTV cameras in eight of its high schools for just that reason. One trustee was quoted in the local paper saying “If it (ie, a CCTV system) acts as a deterrent, it will pay for itself. We have a lot of vandalism at our schools.”
2. Recruit your neighbours – The old adage of “good fences make good neighbours” doesn’t apply to schools. Indeed, having neighbours keep a close eye on schools during the summer extends the reach of any given security system. So it’s useful for school boards to maintain good relations with residents bordering the schools. Inviting them in for an informal seminar on summer security in and around the school may be appropriate in some cases.
Trustees in School District 42 in Maple Ridge, BC put a high value on the role of local residents by asking them to be vigilant in watching for trouble on school property during the summer break. Local trustee Kathie Ward put it succinctly by saying “The public are our eyes and ears.”
3. Upgrade exterior lighting – Summer is perfect for security upgrades. This holds particularly true for exterior lighting dark places that invite trouble when no one is around.
Energy efficient, motion-detector systems can be very effective in these cases. Triggered lights can scare away potential intruders while at the same time alerting neighbours and patrolling security forces that something is wrong. The trick with exterior detectors is to install equipment that can distinguish the random movement of a squirrel from the purposefully movement of an intruder.
The summer is meant to be a fun, safe season for everyone. School boards do their best to make sure that their schools are also safe during the summer heat.