Two years ago, Gov. John R. Kasich signed a bill to establish the School Security Grant Program whereby schools receive funds for security expenditures.
Provisions of the bill include up to $2,000 for one emergency communications system or multi-agency radio communications system and up to $5,000 for expenses incurred for a security entrance system consisting of a security camera, an intercom and remote access equipment per school building.
Since then, many schools and school districts are doing the right thing and have implemented security protocols, said Brian Sherman, co-owner of State Security, a commercial security company that works with more than 150 school buildings in 30 school districts in the central Ohio area.
Vigilant schools have instituted safety and security measures to increase the security of their students and staff, including the following:
• Establish safe drop-off zones
• Teachers and administrators are visible, vigilant and easily identified
• Establish a single main entry point for students, teachers and administrators alike, or have an advanced access-control system
• Ensure visitors are clearly identified and/or escorted to their destination within the building
However, there is always room for improvement. “Don’t play the odds game,” Sherman said. “You have to plan for the worst-case scenario.”
Sherman estimated that up to 30 percent of schools still do not have a security entrance system with audio or video capabilities, and he said parents should question whether their child’s school has taken advantage of the state grant money.
Mike Neff, who co-owns State Security with Sherman, added that sometimes, because of a lack of preventive maintenance, people are shocked to find that their security system has actually not been functioning properly for an extended period of time.
“Even if the security system is recording activity, is anyone actively monitoring it?” he asked. More often than not the answer is no.
A school might have had a security system in place for years, however, older analog systems make it difficult to identify people as they do not provide high-resolution video capabilities, nor do they offer remote access control.
“Cameras don’t protect, they detect,” Neff said. “Actual protection is an access control system.”
Without an access control system, people do not have the ability to monitor cameras from a smart device. “Having the ability to quickly tap into your camera system is very empowering for the police in case there is an active shooting situation,” he said.