Group: No Easy Solution to Safety in Schools

NASSLEO President Augustine Pescatore said there isn't a one-size-fits-all plan for school safety.


Pescatore said that faculty members can't keep it to themselves when they see a student start becoming a loner, dressing differently,

"I think they're learning that now," he said. "You can take the example of Homeland Security. 'See something, say something.' Don't keep it to yourself."

Advances in Technology

Over the past four or five years, school districts have become more aware of safety and security in the schools and despite dwindling budgets, Pescatore said there has been an emphasis on updating schools with new security tools.

Cameras, CCTV systems, electronic door locks, audio-visual systems, electronic entry and swipe cards are just a few examples of what's being installed inside schools.

"Even now, there is the use of bionics to open doors, where you use a student's fingerprint," he said. "They can use a single fingerprint on a forefinger or an index finger to get in and out of the school."

Partnering With Local Police

The relationship between school police and the municipality police department is an important one.

In Philadelphia, Pescatore said the two work together, and that the city's police commissioner, Charles Ramsey, has provided the district with 75 police officers to help patrol the schools.

"We are in direct communication with the Philadelphia Police Department and our radios are capable of switching over to their major bands," he said. "When we have an emergency, we don't have to run over to the phone to dial 911, we just switch right over to the major police band and talk directly to police dispatchers."

He said that it's to the point now where the school police and the police department know what has to be done during a response.

"We're working side-by-side with them and when something happens -- a major incident, it may be less than a shooting -- our guys are in the fray."

Ultimately, Pescatore said that schools' needs vary and that officials need to consider what type of security is best.

"There's no national rule that's going to apply because every school is different," he said. "From the socioeconomic breakdown of the students, to whether it's an urban school or suburban school ... there are many variables that should be considered."

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