In every school district throughout the nation both district and campus safety teams should be utilized to ensure the highest level of campus safety and security. In School Safety 101 the 4 P’s of campus safety teams describe the primary roles and responsibilities of these important groups.
Four P’s of Campus Safety Teams
Often when school officials are asked about Campus Safety Teams, they respond that they ‘have one but really don’t know how to best utilize it.’ Campus Safety Teams are an excellent resource and can be utilized in a variety of ways. One method, called the Four P’s of Campus Safety, focuses on the areas of policies and procedures, programs, partnerships, and physical security. Let’s look more closely at each of these four areas.
- Policies and Procedures
One of the most important roles for a Campus Safety Team is to review campus policies and procedures regarding school safety. CST members should ensure that the policies address the concerns that they were intended to address. Members should review procedures to determine if they are practical and can be realistically implemented. Often both policies and procedures are in place, but because of lack of training or lack of enforcement they are not properly adhered to by school staff or students. For example, a ‘closed campus’ policy is designed to restrict movement and ensure access control, but common practices such as placing rocks in doors to keep them open while teachers step outside will void the entire policy.
When policies and procedures are not in sync, an implementation gap develops. For example, school policy might state that “all visitors to campus must check in at the office,” but because office personnel are busy with other duties, the procedure in the office is to simply have visitors sign in without verifying their identification or what they will be doing on campus. It is the responsibility of Campus Safety Team members to identify the issues and take corrective action when implementation gaps such as this occur. A solution for this common problem might be to route the visitors to a designated area where their identification can be checked and they can be issued a proper visitor badge before going about their activities.
In some school districts, CSTs have recommended “disappearing” VISITOR badges, where the words fade after a designated time, to further strengthen campus security and visitor requirements. Another suggestion which came from a progressive Campus Safety Team was to require ID cards at all times for all visitors. Of course, measures such as this are only effective when schools implement and enforce them 100% of the time!
The second area of responsibility for Campus Safety Team members is to review the programs that focus on improving school safety and are currently in place at the school. Some programs that CST members may want to review include Character Ed, peer mediation, safety centers, safety publications, hotlines, anger management, and conflict resolution.
Many schools have programs such as these, but how often are they evaluated and how effective are they at actually making the campus a safer place to learn? For example, having a student “hotline” to report crime, gang or gun activity may be great, but are students using it? What are some alternatives? Would an Internet-based system be more effective? What about a reporting system tied to age-appropriate rewards? CST members will work to make those determinations and to suggest other innovative initiatives that increase school safety and security.
CST members will also want to determine if there are other school-based or community-based programs that are available to staff or students. Often community groups and social service agencies can be utilized to multiply the number of programs offered on campus.
Examples might be after-school programs that offer physical activities and educational opportunities for children who would otherwise be left alone at home, or mentoring programs offered by local business groups so that young adults can improve their social skills. Often schools will find that there are numerous civic, social and service programs that are available to students in the community. Campus Safety Team members need only identify those opportunities and direct students to those services.
CST members should continually work to develop positive and proactive safety partnerships that will add to the quality of life on campus and ensure a beneficial educational environment. Partner-ships with various civic, social and service groups can yield tremendous benefits for the school and its population. Some groups may be able to donate their time or financial resources, while others may provide advice or other educational opportunities.
In many communities, schools partner with civic groups to leverage resources or with the business and financial community to bolster funding for specialized projects. Often educational foundations are established or booster clubs formed to raise money that can be dedicated to non-budgeted school activities. Each year golf tour-naments, art shows and a plethora of other activities are conducted by schools and their community partners to benefit students and student programs.
Campus Safety Teams with their diverse membership should actively seek out partnership opportunities for their district and its schools. In the past, CSTs have identified the National Guard for drug awareness efforts; police, fire and EMS groups for public safety fairs; and service organizations that fund specialized projects such as ‘back to school’ supplies for low income families.
Enlightened educators are aware that schools have limited resources and that partnering with civic, social and service groups can create a win/win situation for schools and community groups alike.
- Physical Security
A CST should continually review the physical security needs on campus by allowing various assessment teams and safety groups to evaluate internal and external safety. While a full-scale assessment may be needed only once a year, regular checks of the campus by CST members using a short checklist can result in valuable information that increases student and staff safety. For example, if once a month CST members walk the various areas in and around the campus, they may discover fencing that has been knocked down, gates that are not properly secured, or playground equipment that is in disrepair and needs maintenance.