PASS: School Security Methodology

As schools across the US are getting back into the swing of things, this blog discusses a model that, just like math’s Pythagorean Theorem, ends with a solid answer. This formula helps guide us to answer questions about the solution to a mathematical question; it is a proven theory that has stood the test of time (570-495 BC). What model are you using for security assessments?

Using a proven model helps with obtaining valid information that can lead to good business decisions. Just as in math problems, there are models for security assessments. It’s important to choose the model that fits your needs best and to ensure the validity of the results of the chosen model. Businesses and schools are asking for assessments in order to make a business decision about security, based on when lives are at stake (information that is provided with a holistic security assessment.)

One method for assisting in the breakdown of an assessment is utilizing the PASS K12 program, specifically designed for schools. This is a methodology that is supported by several organizations in providing assessments related to security measures. Mitigation strategies for risk avoidance or reductions need to rely on layers or tiers of security. Not everyone who performs an assessment takes into account a holistic approach by layering the strategies that provide the most favorable outcome with the most fiscally responsible means.

Holistic approaches consider:

  • Facility characterization
  • Crime demographics
  • Location of property
  • Weather/climate
  • Deterrence strategies
  • Detection systems
  • Psychological
  • Delay techniques
  • Communications
  • Reoccupation strategies
  • Policy and procedures
  • Education
  • Training

In performing assessments for schools there are correlations with healthcare facilities (pg. 12 PASS K-12):

  • Controlled environment with vulnerable areas
  • Previous history of open access and a light touch with security
  • Location in high crime areas and along major thoroughfares
  • Rural facilities making changes to match what have become de facto security standards (for hospitals: JCAHO, HHS and OSHA regulations)

The PASS K12 program is widely accepted, and considered to be a holistic approach. Not using a solid methodology for assessments may expose your organization to unwanted risks. There are instances of Premises Liability (Torts) caused by a breach of duty, which can hold schools accountable for keeping students safe while on school property. Either the failure to act (omission) or the commission of an improper act can be considered negligence. Performing a thorough assessment can mitigate or limit from an intervening act of applying a risk treatment (or one in process of being applied) to avoid or reduce your exposure to risk(s).

Schools are encouraged to qualify their assessors to ensure methodology and security are top priority. For example, school officials may want to consider the following questions:

  • Are the parties providing your security assessment qualified?
  • Do they have the educational background to look at things holistically?
  • Do you find that their solution involves only products they sell?
  • Are those providing the assessment utilizing a methodology standard?

If you are not sure and would like an assessment from a Board Certified Physical Security Professional using methodologies that can help identify gaps and provide risk mitigating strategies, such as the PASS K12 program, contact your ESCO Communications representative. Our team can assist you in your endeavors to provide a safe and secure environment under your duty of care.

Chuck McCormick has 31+ years in the life-safety and physical security arena ranging from assessments, designing, estimating, implementing, managing projects, program development and program management (for Fortune 50, 100 and 500 companies). My role is to provide consultative engineering and sales support. I am on the Board of Directors as Chair for ASIS International Indianapolis Chapter 045 and on the Board of Directors with InfraGard Member Alliance an FBI outreach program, a member of ASIS International, International Association of Healthcare Security and Safety and the NFPA.

In addition, Chuck is a Board Certified PSP #15216, and has also obtained his certification with the International Association of Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) as an Advanced Security Officer, CVI number with DHS, a member of InfraGard and trained with the TSA as a First Observer (FO) and a Certified Trainer with the A.L.I.C.E., program. He has held licenses to install and inspect fire alarm systems for the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia and was a state certified firefighter for the State of Kentucky.

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