Plan for Implementing School Security Officers
On this page you will find information about the proposed use of highly train school staff as school security officers.
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Question & Answer
What other safety protocols for staff and students are in place?
Norwood Public Schools follows the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) which is a national standard for schools, law enforcement and fire departments to share a common language and actions for a given emergency. The various SRP responses are practiced throughout the year so all staff and students are very familiar with them. The SRP responses are: Lockdown, Secure, Hold, Evacuate and Shelter.
In addition to SRP, we have implemented perimeter security such that all exterior doors are locked at all times. Staff have electronic card keys that must be used to gain access. All access is tracked by the cardkey system. All exterior doors were rekeyed two years ago and only administration, custodial and a few other staff members have exterior door hard keys. Law enforcement and the fire department have both electronic card keys and interior and exterior master hard keys.
Security cameras have been installed and we continue to add more cameras to improve our coverage of the entire campus.
In addition to physical security, Norwood Public Schools implemented the Salem-Keizer threat assessment system a few years ago. Salem-Keizer helps administration assess a student’s risk factors for the potential of self-harm or harm to others.
We have also implemented Proactive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS). PBIS is a framework for creating safer and more effective schools. It is a systems approach to enhancing the capacity of schools to educate all children by developing proactive, research-based, school-wide behavior support systems. The process focuses on utilizing data-driven methods to improve a school’s ability to teach and support positive behavior for all students.
We are currently implementing Restorative Practices at all grade levels. Restorative practices provide a set of processes and approaches to prevent and/or constructively address conflict and harmful.
All of these systems are in place to help prevent a violent act against our students and staff. What is currently missing in our security portfolio is our response in the event these preventative measures fail and something horrible does happen. The proposal for School Security Officers is aimed at filling the current void in our security plan.
To what degree are current safety layers that are in place followed?
All of the above described layers are followed on a daily basis with the exception of the Salem-Keizer system. Salem-Keizer is used on an as-needed basis when a potential risk is identified by staff using the other systems.
Restorative Practices implementation is in its infancy but is gaining momentum.
What characteristics of Norwood's school/town population makes you think armed personnel should be present?
History shows that no community is immune from school violence. Mass shootings have occurred at small rural schools and churches up to large metropolitan schools, churches, stores and shopping malls.
The rural nature of our community makes gun ownership a natural part of our rural life. We hunt and participate in shooting sports as part of our recreational activities. While this is a good and natural part of who we are, it also gives students and others in the community ready access to firearms. Add to that the influx of people moving to this area from out of state for legalized drugs, the epidemic of methamphetamine and alcohol use and the increase in crime rate in our area, we would be grossly negligent and naïve to assume that a school shooting cannot happen here.
What are the priorities for the Norwood Public School District?
Our number one priority is providing the best education we possibly can to our students in a safe, caring environment.
How will the security officers be vetted?
Any staff member interested in becoming a school security officer (SSO) must meet with the superintendent and director of security for a personal interview. They will be given a questionnaire to fill out beforehand about why they want to be an SSO and their background. All school staff have already passed criminal background checks before being hired.
Candidates must also pass the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) test for firearm proficiency before being selected as an SSO. This is the same level of firearms training and testing that Colorado police officers must pass, including School Resource Officers (SROs). The POST test that our staff must pass is more strict than the standard police officer test in that our staff must pass with a 100% score while we’ve been told that police officers can score approximately 92% to pass.
What options to having a trained, armed staff member exist.
The only two viable options are having trained armed staff or hiring a school resource officer (SRO). An SRO is a law enforcement official with either the Marshal’s office or the Sheriff’s department. An SRO is much more expensive, is just one person, and may not be able to be at the school 100% of the time. Arming staff who are already on the payroll and who are on campus all the time is a more cost effective solution while providing multiple staff who can respond in an emergency.
Will arming teachers make it less desirable to recruit new teachers?
There is no evidence that this is the case. While there may be some candidates who prefer not to work at a school with trained, armed staff, there are others who would feel safer in such an environment and would select Norwood over a school who does not have an armed presence on campus.
Should the school district consider all other alternatives before arming personnel on campus?
As stated above we are doing everything within our power to prevent violent acts at our school. But as any good planner will tell you, you must plan on the plan not working. Up to this point our plans have all focused on prevention. We are now facing the fact that we must plan on our plans not working and be prepared in the event someone tries to harm our students and staff.
Are there grant opportunities to fund the implementation of this program, either through building modifications, training programs, or training?
We know of some grants to pay for staff training and are pursuing them. We are looking for other grants to help with building security, building improvements and even building a new, safer school building.