While the Chester County Sheriff, a private security firm, and the administration of Chester County Schools are arguing over whether to spend more than $101,000 annually on sheriff’s deputies or private security guards to protect the children of Chester County, no one seems to be considering the most efficient and effective expenditure of all – putting training in the hands of those who will need it – the teachers and staff. The district has spent almost $1 million on security measures such as door locking mechanisms and surveillance cameras.
The real million dollar question is whether even a dime has been spent on training school stakeholders on how to effectively use the hardware. For just a fraction of the cost of either of these reactive measures, every staff member, student, and parent could be trained in proactive prevention and response measures such as threat assessment management, lockdown enhancements, visitor engagement, and strategic supervision.
Research as well as past violent events indicates that teachers and students will be the ones who will need to know how to respond to crisis incidents. While having a law enforcement or security presence in schools is a great supplemental measure, adequate resources of time and money should be allocated first and foremost for the training and empowerment of school stakeholders. The central argument between the sheriff, the security firm, and the school is what approach will keep students safest. The answer – none of the above- train and empower teachers, students, and parents first.