The CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program was peer reviewed by John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a model for national best practices in May 2014.
In the context of security management and schools, many universal risks (such as theft or accidents) have a relatively high frequency and Risk Probability can be easily quantified. Likewise, the impact of these universal risks is often easily measured and can serve as the basis for estimating risk and justifying security accordingly. Violence-related risks, however, are often more difficult to assess. By comparison to universal risks, violence-related risks in schools tend to be low in statistical frequency. As a result, from a pure risk management perspective, it is usually not the Risk Probability that justifies serious risk reduction measures in schools. In most cases it is the Risk Criticality that demands attention. What would the consequences be if an attack occurred? What would the impact be if students were killed or injured in a situation that could have been prevented or mitigated? In the case of a private school, could the school as a business entity survive an incident of violence? For most schools, it is often both the moral responsibility for student safety and the catastrophic secondary consequences of an attack that warrant risk concern.
Effective security programs control risk by reducing Risk Probability and Risk Criticality. In the context of security risk management, Risk Probability is the result of Threat (an adversary with intent and capability to cause harm) and Vulnerability (the state of conditions that would allow the adversary to succeed in causing the risk event). Proactive security measures aim to reduce Risk Probability by either reducing Threat or reducing Vulnerability. If proactive measures are implemented effectively, they may be successful in reducing Risk Probability, but there is always an element of uncertainty. To further reduce risk, reactive/mitigative measures should be employed to reduce the harmful effect of risk events (Risk Criticality).
In security design theory, this concept of multiple layers of proactive and mitigative measures aimed at risk reduction through controlling Risk Probability and Risk Criticality is often represented as concentric rings of protection (as depicted below).
In the context of school security, proactive risk management starts with reducing potential threat. This is first accomplished by reducing the potential conditions that contribute to targeted violence escalation. Reinforcement of positive school culture, creating strong bonds between staff and students, mentoring students with problems, actively intervening in bullying situations, and restorative practices are all examples of measures aimed at reducing threat. In addition to school climate and behavior of faculty and staff, a critical element of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program is the proactive approach of the Community and Character Based Protection Initiative (CCBPI) used by CIS School Protection Officers to reinforce positive school climate.
Parallel with this, having a formal system in place to identify potential threats, investigate and assess threats, and manage potential threatening situations before they result in violence is another critical element of reducing threat. To facilitate this important function, CIS created the CIS Student Threat Assessment and Management System (C-STAMS) as a methodology for conducting threat assessments in CIS-protected schools.
Positive school culture and threat assessment may be effective in reducing the threat of students escalating toward violence, but these measures have little effect on outsider adult adversaries who may target the school for reasons beyond the school’s influence. The only way to effectively mitigate probability in this risk situation is to establish an effective physical security program. Effective physical security requires that a threat is detected early and delayed from accomplishing the objective long enough for a response force to intercept.
If an attack does occur, additional measures should be implemented to mitigate the impact of the risk event. In school security, this means having a response force capable of intercepting a threat before they can cause mass violence, and plans and preparations in place to manage the situation safely, effectively, and restore normal operations as quickly as possible.
The CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program integrates all of these approaches to managing risk in schools. The CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program is designed using a multi-layered strategy to reduce risk by preventing acts of violence and mitigating the potential impact of events through effective preparation and response.
For more information about the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program and optional solutions for protecting schools, please contact:
Craig Gundry, CPS, CHS-III
Vice President of Special Projects
Critical Intervention Services
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