All educational institutions are at risk for violent events, intruders, drug and alcohol use, and other emergency and/or crisis situations. This is true for K-12 public, independent and charter schools as well as higher education institutions. Education officials must take a proactive stance to better assure the safety and security of staff, students and visitors within their buildings and throughout their campus.
School Resource Officers
One risk management approach is to use School Resource Officers (SROs) or other security personnel (armed or unarmed) that are either contracted for, or employed directly by, the educational institution to perform various security functions.
When it comes to School Security Personnel, a risk management best practice preferred and recommended by Utica National is the use of trained Law Enforcement/School Resource Officers (SROs). SROs typically are highly qualified and experienced police officers who carry out a number of duties in addition to patrol and crime prevention – including providing administrators and faculty with advice on safety and security issues; training administrators, faculty, and parents regarding safety issues; and preparing and teaching classes to students on personal safety, bus safety, drugs and alcohol, and gang awareness.
The SRO wears the hat of police officer, counselor and educator within the school environment. The arrangement is contractual with the law enforcement agency providing the SROs, or may be a joint contractual arrangement that also includes the city or village in which the law enforcement agency operates.
A second option schools may exercise if an SRO program isn’t available within their state or community law enforcement agencies is to contract with a Security (Guard) firm for services of trained/licensed Security Officers/Guards. This is also a contractual arrangement for services and, although not as preferred as the use of law enforcement SROs, with proper screening and due diligence this is an acceptable alternative for schools to provide an enhanced school security presence.
Of Special Note:
Screenings and Background Checks
Prior to engaging security personnel, it is important for educational institutions to perform screening and background checks. Reasonable screening procedures provide a means to confirm that security personnel are qualified and that the program will meet the school’s need for a security presence within the school. Agreements with outside security agencies, whether private or public, should clearly define the nature of the relationship between the educational institution, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the security agency. All agreements should include hold harmless language and insurance provisions in favor of the educational institution.
In addition, the educational institution must reasonably screen any other personnel employed directly by the school to perform security functions. Rigorous hiring and screening programs consisting of background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks are expected and the norm in the occupation. Security guards or other security personnel who carry weapons must be licensed by the appropriate government authority.
Copyright 2013 by the Utica Mutual Insurance Company, all rights reserved. This material may not be copied, reproduced or distributed in any fashion, print or electronically, in whole or part, without the express permission of the Company. The information contained in this publication has been developed from sources believed to be reliable. It should not, however, be construed or relied upon as legal advice and Utica National accepts no legal responsibility for its correctness or for its application to specific factual situations.