Passive and Active

Feb. 4, 2019
Automatic or manual lockdown of classroom doors should be part of a school security plan, sold and installed by locksmiths

Early last year an editorial in Locksmith Ledger described how a local Chicagoland school district had hired Facility Engineering Associates to make a physical security assessment of their school buildings. The cost of the assessment was reportedly $100,000. In the old editorial I stated that physical security is what locksmiths are most familiar with. Instead, the school district had hired an east coast company to make the assessment.

The school district in question has just published a report concerning the changes suggested by the $100,000 study. Instituted changes include adding "impact resistant and bullet proof security glazing to building entrances" (for a cost of $145,830), requiring all staff to wear identification badges and hiring a full-time safety and security manager.

All of these changes seem to be like installing a wall around the perimeter without any concern about what might possibly happen inside. Sound familiar? This school district has spent $250,000 of taxpayers’ money on what might be called passive security. If a perpetrator breaches the perimeter by climbing through a window or following a student into a school building, the passive security system is no longer effective. This is exactly what happened in a recent Florida school shooting.

A few years ago I was invited to the UL Laboratories to view testing of a new safe cabinet. Technicians attacked the safe door first by drilling, and finally with a burning bar. The safe door did not yield. I asked the technicians why they did not attack the sides or back of the safe. They replied that the door was the only part of the safe which had to be tested according to UL requirements. This is the same illogical thinking as described above. If the safe cabinet perimeter can be breached in any manner, then security is lost.

The active part of this school plan is missing. It is well and good that this district has hired a safety and security manager but he cannot possibly be at all of the school district buildings at the same time. A quarter of a million dollars has been spent in this case with little or no definite results. Automatic or manual locking of classroom doors is completely missing from this report. There are still a lot of possible sales left for locksmiths in the realm of school security.