"Schools out for Summer"

     A few days ago, someone set fire to a tree planted at the local high school in honor of our community's veterans. My daughter, a freshman at the school, believes it to be an inside job. She says only a student, or former student, would know that the school's security cameras operate on a three-day loop, after which time the footage is erased. Without surveillance video, there's little evidence pointing to the culprit, who will likely get away with his or her crime.

     This story got me thinking about what end of the school year means to law enforcement. While the lyrics to "School's out for Summer" aptly represent the mayhem that ensues as students leave the building at the close of yet another school year, it doesn't portray the job law enforcers and school administrators have ahead of them during the lazy days of summer. Empty school buildings offer the perfect opportunity to investigate school safety.

     So, while the kids lounge by the pool, why not contact your school administrators and plan to:

  • Discuss the law enforcement-school partnership. A memorandum of agreement should be in place defining the roles and responsibilities of both. This agreement should be reviewed annually.
  • Evaluate the school's physical security. Are the grounds, particularly near entrances, well lit? Do the entrances lock securely? Does vegetation obscure windows or hide doors? Are surveillance cameras operating as they should?
  • Fine-tune crisis plans. This strategy should consider natural disasters, bus accidents, bomb threats, hostage situations, suicide and more. It, too, should be reviewed annually.
  • Train for trouble. Don't wait until the unthinkable happens. Take advantage of the empty classrooms to bring officers in for some realistic scenario-based training.

     Those familiar with the lyrics to Alice Cooper's 1972 hit also know it takes a dark tone in the refrain when it says, "School's out forever. My school's been blown to pieces." Use the summer wisely to plan and train for crisis because the next time the school bell rings, kids will be coming back.