September 16, 2020
School Security—Arming Staff
What Are My Expectations and Options?
It seems every time you turn on the news, pick up a newspaper or look on-line, there is a reference to an active shooting event. Unfortunately, school violence and shootings are not going away. Therefore, it is extremely important that we review our current security procedures and understand some of our security options under the MUSIC program.
There are five primary areas which should be addressed:
- Perimeter and classroom physical security
- Security policies
- Security training and intruder drills
- Threat assessment
- Armed Security Personnel
Let’s review each of these topics a little closer.
The physical security of your campus, schools and classrooms continues to be one of the most important areas to address. However, with this in mind, our security efforts cannot interfere with “Life Safety Code” guidelines. We need to look closely at any security measures being considered to ensure they do not create a life safety issue or other safety concern.
Some key physical security items to consider include:
- All perimeter doors need to be locked from the outside. This includes kitchen doors and doors used for playground access.
- Video monitoring should be considered at all entrances, but at a minimum, it should be installed at the main entrance to the school.
- The main entrance should have a communication system with the main office.
- All classroom doors should have the ability to be locked. It is strongly recommended that doors which require a key to lock them be “pre-locked.”
- First floor windows and windows in classroom doors should have shades or blinds so they can be closed during an intruder event.
- Glass panels in classroom doors should have a clear security film placed on them so they are more impact resistant.
- Each classroom should have two-way communication with the office.
It is also important that our security policies be reviewed and updated to address potential concerns. The policies should then be communicated to staff. Probably one of the most important policies to review is the visitor and vendor policy. Do you have a good policy which requires the visitor/vendor to sign in, wear visitor lanyard, and sign out. Even a better policy is to collect some form of identification when they enter the school.
Security Training and Intruder Drills
All staff and students should be routinely trained in intruder policies and how to react to an intruder. In addition, a minimum of two intruder drills should be completed every school year. The training and drills should include the following:
- Confronting any person in the building who is not wearing a “visitor ” badge.
- The importance of maintaining perimeter security.
- Not opening perimeter doors for individuals and rather directing them to the main entrance.
- How to properly secure classrooms and other safe areas.
- The importance of option-based responses.
- Scenario-based drills should be considered. These actively require teachers and staff to make split second decisions. All staff needs to be trained in option-based responses.
A key component in eliminating an active shooter event is to identify any potential threats before they escalate into an actual event. This is the primary purpose and focus on the threat assessment process. Analysis of past events has told us that many times one or more students, teachers or others were given clues that the event was going to take place. It is important that a program be put in place so these clues can be communicated to a common person or team so they can be evaluated and perhaps acted upon to keep the event from occurring.
Armed Security Personnel
Within the MUSIC program you have several different options for armed security personnel on the school campus. They include the following:
- A commissioned law enforcement officer
This is probably the best option. This is an SRO or similar commissioned officer assigned to the school district or school event. In this scenario, the commissioned officer is largely controlled by the local police chief or county sheriff. The police chief or sheriff will ensure the SRO maintains their commission, weapons qualifications, physicals and mental assessments.
- A school protection officer (SPO)
In 2014, the Missouri legislator passed SB 656. This legislation created the position of an SPO in a school. If your district is interested in appointing an SPO, you must follow all criteria outlined within the legislation. This includes having the person receive all POST-required training. In this scenario, the SPO is not commissioned by the local police chief or sheriff. Therefore, they will not have a relationship with the juvenile system and their powers are limited.
To maintain their designation, School Protection Officers shall—
(A) Successfully complete a minimum of twelve (12) hours of annual training. Eight (8) hours of this training shall have a primary focus of responding to active school shootings and shall be delivered by a local, county, or state law enforcement officer qualified to offer a response to active shooter course and who is in possession of a valid peace officer license. The remaining four (4) hours of training shall have a primary focus of weapon retention, firearms skill development, defensive tactics, ground fighting, and handcuffing and restraint devices. The four (4) hours of training shall be delivered by a local, county, or state law enforcement officer qualified to offer this type of training and who is in possession of a valid peace officer license.
(B) On a quarterly basis, successfully complete a firearm qualification course using the same firearm used in the performance of their duties as a School Protection Officer. This course can be delivered by any local, county, or state law enforcement officer qualified to offer a firearm qualification course and who is in possession of a valid peace officer license.
(C) Maintain a secondary/third-party First Aid/CPR certification.
Written documentation of the completion of the twelve (12) hours of annual training, successful quarterly firearm qualification, and a current copy of his/her secondary/third- party First Aid/CPR certification must be maintained by the school where the School Protection Officer is employed for a period of three (3) years from the date the training, qualifications, and certifications were successfully completed.
In addition to the above requirements, it is important that all SPOs be given a mental health assessment on a routine basis.
- Contracted security service
Under this scenario, the school district hires an outside security firm to provide security at the school or school event. If you enter into this type of agreement, it is important that the contract requires that the private security company requires their security staff to maintain weapons qualifications and mental health assessments. The district should also require a certificate of insurance from the private security firm for both liability and work comp.
- District security staff
The district employs off-duty commissioned law enforcement officers to perform security activities on campus. The written agreement or contract with these officers must specify job duties and other actions the officers may participate in while on campus. I strongly recommend that you have your legal counsel draft the employee agreement.
- Hybrid security service
There is only one company that I am aware of which provides this service. (Shield Solutions) Under this scenario, the school district allows staff members to become armed. The district contracts with Shield Solutions to provide training, mental health assessments and receive weapons qualifications for selected staff. In addition, Shield Solutions also provides on-going training and mental health assessments. The contract with Shield Solutions indicates that if a Shield Solutions trained person is ever is required to use their weapon as a result of an active shooter event, they immediately become a Shield Solutions employee and will be covered by the liability and work comp insurance of Shield Solutions.
Your MUSIC/Gallagher loss control staff has developed several checklists and other resources to assist your school district in evaluating and addressing your security needs. In addition, we are available to perform on-site security evaluations of your school and campus. Finally, we are also available to assist you with training your staff on intruder response. If you have any questions you can contact us at 314-800-2255 or at email@example.com