Security expert: Access control, communication vital at schools

December 14, 2012 8:22:38 PM PST
In Illinois, state law requires all schools to conduct an annual lockdown drill. While schools can plan, there's no failsafe when the unthinkable happens.

"If we're going to protect people, students, staff, visitors, there are two things that are vital - access control and communication," RETA Security PSP Paul Timm said.

Timm is a security consultant for school districts across the country. His point about access deals with having a sort of security vestibule inside the school entry door. Visitors are buzzed in -- but don't have immediate access to the entire school until your purpose is clear.

"Newer buildings will have that. Some older buildings are being retrofitted, but I will tell you - after this incident - new schools will have locked vestibules as a rule," Timm said.

There may also be a move, Timm believes, toward visitor management software. That's where visitors scan an ID that's directed to a database before full entry is allowed. However, the system is only as good as the people who operate it which means a single source of entry and exit, and nobody is authorized to open any other doors.

"I don't think you can control every circumstance that's out there. I think that some measure of security - having a guard at the entry to the door as we do here at Skinner North - is appropriate," Chris Bass, parent, said.