School security is in the news again with the release of the Dept. of Justice report on the Uvalde school shooting. The two most significant findings dealt with failed police response and poor exterior/interior building security.
Protecting our most precious gift, our children, should cause us to reflect upon the lessons learned from the DOJ’s report and consider their application here in Plymouth.
Do we have incidents of propped exterior doors at our schools? Do students, trying to be polite, sometimes open a door for an adult outside? Do we have good security awareness and consistent security practice? Ask your kids. The students know their school’s vulnerabilities, sometimes even better than the teachers and administrators.
The approach to good security practice and awareness is a partnership, which needs to include students, teachers, administrators, and our police department. Refresher training needs to be conducted periodically and the system needs to be tested.
It has been reported that the two high schools and our middle schools have resource officers assigned and that two officers rotate through our eight elementary schools. What does that tell you about response times or deterrence at our elementary schools? To be fair, the Plymouth Police Department is doing the best it can with the resources and staffing available. Refresher training, additional officers, and insuring security awareness cost money.
As a career Military Police Officer and former Federal Aviation Administration special agent, physical security has been front and center for me for over 30 years. One thing we learned in that environment is that a command does well what the commander checks. In that vein, I would hope that periodic unannounced visits are being made to the schools to check to ensure good security practice is being implemented. That would entail an officer walking the exterior and checking to ensure against unlocked or propped doors and reporting his/her findings so that corrective action and security awareness training could be implemented where necessary. Basically, what is needed is an “honest broker,” who will help ensure the system is working as intended.
Had this been done at Uvalde, perhaps the tragedy could have been averted or, at the very least, made more difficult for the perpetrator.
I realize that the town didn’t have much choice but to conduct the recent special election concerning nips. What struck me though was that the projected cost of that election was upwards of $57,000. That’s a significant chunk of change. It got me to thinking that, if we can spend that kind of money on whether or not we ban nips, we certainly should be able to come up with additional funds to protect our children.
Perhaps Plymouth should look at enhancing school security, by providing additional resources to our police department, earmarked for that purpose, during upcoming budgetary deliberations.
Brian F. Sullivan
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