For many it is hard to believe that we are beyond a ten year anniversary for Columbine and a two year anniversary for Virginia Tech. Those two events are listed in a January 2010 survey by Campus Safety Magazine as being the most influential on K-12 and college and university security improvements. Yet while improvements in technology and physical security came quickly, and many emergency plans were revised virtually overnight, training of staff at all levels remained a concern.

The Clery Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act have both provided significant guidance in establishing priorities for institutions of higher learning as thy draft policies, procedures, and protocols related to public safety. In addition, K-12 administrators have used data directed at higher education along with suggestions from the Department of Justice, the F.B.I., and the Department of Homeland Security to promulgate guidelines appropriate for their communities. However, national safety and security surveys conducted over the last several years note that far too often that institutional guidelines are not fully explained the bulk of the campus community, and there is virtually no assessment of competency in addressing emergency and/or violent situations. Unfortunately, some institutions also don't regularly update their plans to reflect their campus' changing environment and threats.

Some Recommendations

Columbine 10-year anniversary survey participants were asked to indicate the five most important upgrades their campus/district could implement to improve safety and security. The top five answers were:

  • Install or upgrade security cameras (43 percent)
  • Train non-law enforcement campus personnel, or improve the training we currently provide (41 percent)
  • Train our officers, or improve the training we currently provide (31 percent)
  • Install or upgrade access control (31 percent)
  • Conduct hazard and vulnerability/risk assessments or expand the number of assessments we currently conduct (28 percent)

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