Part 1, School Safety: Mark Field, Safety and Security Consultant shares key insights into his experience working with schools to develop policy and training procedures.
As a part of BluePoint’s dedication to provide a complete, valuable solution to our clients, we seek to bring not only the best in systems and technology but also in preparation and training. To that end we have forged a new partnership with P4 Security Solutions, a leading safety and security firm based out of Chicago, IL. Recently BluePoint Co-Founder John Shales and P4 VP of Consultation Service Mark Field discussed several topics on improving school and business security. Mark shared key insights from his experience working with schools and businesses across the US. We trust that you will benefit from his insights, but first, some background on Mark.
Mark Field is the Vice President of Consultation Services and Lead Instructor for P4 Security Services. Prior to his work as a safety and security consultant, Mark served as a police officer for 39 years including 20 years as chief of police in Wheaton IL, a suburb of Chicago. He started his career in the navy and retired as a lieutenant in US Naval Intelligence Service. Mr. Field has lectured in 27 states and published over 40 articles on topics ranging from leadership, ethics, human resources, and personnel selection.
Here are Mark’s responses to several questions:
1. In your experience, what is the top concern you have for schools, colleges, and universities and their armed intruder policies & procedures?
Either the total lack of a policy or the policy does not sufficiently outline the methodology for lockdowns, e.g. ALICE, run-hide-fight, et al. With all that has taken place in our country over the last several years, on one level it is hard to believe that this isn’t further developed. Likely the reason for this is the many demands on the safety and security leader in the organization. With so much to be responsible for, keeping policies up to date and relevant is a task that gets pushed down on the task list. But these are the solid foundation on which a well-executed response is based. This is not to say that we need policy for policy sake, but a truly responsible, well thought out response needs to be documented in the policy. It needs to be neither cumbersome or long, just intentional and thoughtful. Dedicating time to this to review and refine is needed at least yearly if not more frequently.
2. What is the most common deficiency you see in school emergency planning?
A well-defined policy supported by ongoing personnel training. Far too often we encounter school districts, colleges, and universities who have conducted lockdown drills without having provided precursor training. This is a set-up for failure.
Second, districts provide initial training but do not conduct what I would characterize as “inoculation” or on-going training. Such training is a perishable skill and needs to be refreshed no less than annually.
Lastly, district leadership should participate in a table-top exercise biennially to affirm that conditions and needs have not changed while also building and enhancing protocols.
3. When you first meet with a school, what is the most important security aspect you want to learn more about?
What is the existing crisis plan, when was it last updated and personnel training history and records. Crisis plans, for instance, at a minimum must be reviewed annually to update contact information and any other associated ancillary aspects. This gives me a very quick idea where this organization is at. If they have good plans reviewed recently and training records that are up-to-date, I know right away that I am working with a client that is not only on the right path but is well down the path. The lack of these elements also tells me that I need to start at the foundational items.
4. How do you think a school’s atmosphere changes when a BluePoint system is installed?
It provides an increased level of security-related comfort for staff. Everyone benefits when there is an expedient method to notify police and everyone in the building of a critical incident occurring on the exterior or in the interior of a property. The biggest questions staff have are what do I do, and what do I do first? With BluePoint, the answer is simple: activate the system. It then automates the contacting of police and notifying of everyone else in the building as well as launches the crisis communications system. Additionally, it enables people to make better informed decisions for their own personal safety and security. All of the communications and situational awareness systems are absolutely great, but that initial, rapid notification is critical to a good outcome.
5. For the schools you have worked with, what aspect of BluePoint’s solution stands out as the most important?
Easy accessibility to the system activation points like the mobile pendant device. While each pull station is readily accessible, the portability of a pendant alarm significantly enhances activation from any location within the building or on the grounds in the event that a pull station cannot be reached without endangering oneself. Time is critical – the sooner police and everyone in the building are notified to start their safety procedures the more likely there will be a good outcome.
For more information about the training that P4 provides, contact us here.