Over the next few days and weeks, kids all over the nation will be singing: “School’s out....for the summer.” While the kids are kicking back, security systems will still be at work protecting their schools. It’s an important and growing solution to problems at our schools. And, yes, it raises concerns.

Even with financial woes, school districts are finding ways to add security to their campuses. Good locks and burglar alarms have been campus basics. Since school shooting tragedies, security improvements have come in the form of ID badges, card readers, and video cameras.

SDM recently visited Sonitrol Pacific, where providing security to schools is a special responsibility. In one Portland area high school, we saw cameras over parking lots and playing fields, motion detectors and beam smoke detectors in the cafeteria, card access for faculty and staff entry, and microphones able to trigger listen-in from the central station. Thanks to Sonitrol Pacific for the tour!

After all, security dealers and integrators know what school administrators and parents want security systems to do.

  • Deter vandalism and theft
  • Identify and catch petty thieves and vandals
  • Stop fights and bullying between students and sort out conflicting claims
  • Deter violent acts and speed up response in emergencies
  • Combat potential acts of terrorism

    We also know what security systems don’t do and should never do.

  • “...read what you’re reading and listening in on your conversation”
  • “...have a chilling effect on any campus political activity”
  • “...make school an oppressive environment”
  • “..increase the big brotherism in this country”

These remarks appeared in the Marin Independent Journal, Marin, Calif., from members of the local ACLU chapter and a psychology professor.

Clearly, the public needs more education about what good security systems don’t do and should never do. Far from being oppressive, good security at schools can have the opposite effect – help kids feel safer. For example, Sonitrol Pacific installed Dedicated Micros equipment that helped a student whose purse and car were stolen. Using the recorder’s playback capability, school staff observed a group of kids first driving around the parking lot and then one walking up to the car and driving off. With the digital recording in hand, police were able the same night to catch the group shoplifting and to recover the car.

As the student body president said in the Marin, Calif., article, “The first priority is to ensure the safety of all the students.” At least the kids are learning.