Friday, February 28, 2014

Superintendent Pay Protests

Superintendent Pay Protests

The revelation that the superintendent of a tiny Southern California school district earned more than President Barack Obama last year sparked calls Tuesday for his resignation, a criminal investigation and a recall of the school board.  An angry crowd showed up at a special meeting of the CentinelaValleyUnionHighSchool District after a newspaper investigation revealed Superintendent Jose Fernandez's total compensation package.  Many of the speakers called on Fernandez and the five board members to step down, KCAL-TV reported.

The Torrance Daily Breeze reported earlier this month that Fernandez collected $663,000 in compensation in 2013. In comparison, Obama's overall compensation package, which included salary, benefits and other perks, amounts to $569,000 annually.  Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy, who oversees the nation's second-largest school district, had a nearly $390,000 compensation package. Fernandez oversees three high schools in the working-class suburbs of Hawthorne and Lawndale.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Conflicting Active Shooter Training Concepts

Over several decades, various methods across the nation have been used to teach the public defensive and offensive reactions to an active shooter scenario at college campuses and in the workplace. Since the Columbine High School shootings in April 1999, law enforcement and the general public have changed how they train and react to an active mass murder situation. Sitting idle and waiting for help or waiting to respond until a local SWAT Team can be placed is no longer a realistic or valid response solution.
Today, the public and law enforcement are expected to react quickly as a part of a standard (active shooter) response plan. Police officers are now trained to actively engage an active shooter where they find them. The public expects competent, effective, consistent and standardized training of first responders and active shooter training.
Related Article: Protection Professionals Debate Campus Active Shooter Response

The failure of an employer to address the threat of an active shooter in the workplace can be an Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) violation under the General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)1). It requires employers to provide their employees a place of employment that is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm. OSHA violations can lead to citations, fines, lawsuits and damage to institutional reputation.
Active shooter response is a hot training topic nationally, as just about every public and private educational institution and many organizations (public, private, for-profit and non-profit), are developing active shooter guidance, policy, videos and related training. A search of YouTube finds hundreds of home-brewed active shooter videos and methods. Some of these videos are excellent; many are mediocre and some are not credible.
Basic concepts in active shooter training focus on several general response principles:
  1. Try to escape the area (run – evacuate – get out – seek safe cover);
  2. Call 9-1-1 after you escape and/or as soon as it is safe to do so;
  3. Lockdown, secure and deny entry, or shelter-in-place in your current location; or
  4. Find a place to hide - try to hide if you cannot escape (hide or hide out);
  5. Take action against the shooter (fight – take out the shooter – take action – attack)
Compounding the problem; some schools may not be working with their local law enforcement officials when they are developing their active shooter training programs and plans. Some schools are bringing in private contractors and consultants. Whatever method is used, it is essential to reduce confusion and eliminate potential conflicts in how information is presented. Everyone should be on the same page when you are training people in geographic regions. Culture also plays a role in how people are taught within a particular geographic region. Use training and concepts that are familiar and consistent with past local practices and training cultures. 
With various methods of active shooter training being taught and depending on what campus you attend, our students, faculty and staff may be getting a mixed message. The last thing we all need in this situation is a public served with mixed messages or confusion.

Active Shooter Events from 2000 to 2012

On April 20, 1999, two Columbine High School students killed twelve classmates and a teacher in Littleton, Colorado. The shooters committed suicide before officers entered the school to intervene. Outrage on the part of the public and deep introspection by the police produced massive changes in law enforcement response to ongoing acts of violence.[1] Unfortunately, active shooter events (ASEs) have continued to occur. Recent tragedies have happened at the Century 21 Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Out of 70 people shot in Aurora, Colorado, 12 eventually died. Twenty first graders, six staff members, and the shooter’s mother were murdered in Newtown. Even more recently, employees at the Washington Navy Yard in the District of Columbia were attacked. Twelve people were killed in this attack. All four of these events drew national attention.
Such high-profile events put a substantial amount of pressure on law enforcement officials to respond effectively; however, solid empirical information is needed if law enforcement administrators are to develop effective policies and procedures regarding these events. The goal of this article is to provide such information along with the authors’ insights into what these data tell us about an effective active shooter response.
Although not an exhaustive review of each incident, this evaluation identified a steady rise in incidents, as well as a consistent increase in the number of those shot and killed. The data establish that officers must have the equipment with them to engage the shooter to end the threat and must be prepared to administer medical assistance to the wounded before emergency medical services (EMS) arrive.
In addition, though officers responded quickly (i.e., median time 3 minutes), shooters inflicted devastating damage beforehand. This adds to the growing evidence that citizens must have insight on how to respond. The FBI’s support for strong citizen awareness, detailed in the “Run, Hide, Fight” protocol, is endorsed by all other federal agencies.[2] The data establish that when prepared, the potential victims themselves can stop the shooter. 

FBI Report: Frequency of Active Shooter Events Has Increased

According to a study recently released by the FBI, from 2000 to 2012, the rate of active shooter incidents in the United States increased, particularly after 2008.

Between 2000 and 2008, approximately one event occurred every other month (five per year), but that rate increased to one per month between 2009 and 2012 (nearly 16 per year). The authors say the high rate continued in 2013—there were 15 incidents last year.

The most common location of an active shooter incident between 2000 and 2012 was a business (40%), while schools were the second most common location (29%). Nearly one in five events (19%) occurred outdoors.

The median response time for law enforcement was 3 minutes, and the median response time for solo officers was 2 minutes. The median number of people shot per event was five, not including the shooter. All of the events identified by the authors involved single shooters (94% were male), and in 55% of the events, the shooter had a connection with the attack location.

View the charts from this report.

“It also is worth noting that in the five largest-casualty events (Northern Illinois University in DeKalb; Sandy Hook Elementary School; Fort Hood Army Base, Killeen, Texas; Virginia Polytechnic and State University in Blacksburg; and the Century 21 Theater) the police were on scene in about 3 minutes; yet, a substantial number of people still were shot and injured or killed,” the report claims.

Nearly half (49%) of the incidents ended before police arrived at the scene: 67% percent ended by the shooter dying by suicide or leaving the scene; 33% ended by the potential victims stopping the shooter themselves.

Of the 51% of incidents that were still going when law enforcement arrived, 40% of the attackers either died by suicide or surrendered to police.  In the other cases (60%), police officers used force to stop the attackers, most often with firearms.

Colo. District Hires Armed Security Officers for Middle Schools

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — School District 51 officials plan to hire armed security officers, who will not have arresting power, to patrol four middle schools.

In the spring, the district will deploy two security officers — one based at East and Orchard Mesa middle schools and the other based at West and Bookcliff middle schools, The Daily Sentinel reports.

District 51 officials decided to place the officers in middle schools because they will be able to handle disciplinary issues common at middle schools. In contrast, the district has school resource officers at its high schools, where disciplinary issues are more likely to coincided with criminal instances.

Security officer candidates must have Peace Officer Standards and Training Board certification. Additionally, they must have worked in law enforcement within the last two years. All candidates will undergo psychological testing, background checks and a polygraph test.

If the budget allows, the district plans to have one security officer in all middle schools.

Rhode Island Safety Plan Designed to Make Schools More Secure

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee unveiled the state’s Model School Safety Plan developed in the wake of school incidents and in response to legislative mandates.

Signed into law in July 2013, the Model Plan requires school districts to work with local police and fire departments to conduct a school safety assessment and create an emergency plan. The 300-page strategic blueprint was developed in collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), Rhode Island Department of Public Safety, Rhode Island State Police and the Division of the State Fire Marshal.

“Prior to this initiative, school safety teams comprised of educators, administrators, police, fire and emergency responders met regularly to review school crisis plans, to include identifying operational and structural vulnerabilities in our schools,” said Elwood Johnson Jr., president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association. “However, the creation and introduction of the Model School Safety Plan has undoubtedly improved the planning process by adding specific criteria and requesting crucial data elements that provide for more detailed emergency planning, which establishes uniformity statewide and further enhances the safety of children and adults in our schools. This document helped to expand our planning concepts and facilitated more detailed discussion by our safety teams.”

The key documents in the new resource include an emergency planning guide; and two FEMA publications on how to develop high-quality emergency operations for K-12 and higher educational institutions.

As a requirement, school committees must update safety and emergency plans and procedures on an annually. Schools must present a safety assessment to the general assembly and governor by Dec. 31 of each year.

Study Finds Major Gaps in School Safety and Security

Study Finds Major Gaps in School Safety and Security - Campus Safety

The Israeli Approach to School Security

The mere fact you are reading this magazine means you and I share a bond… a bond to try and protect the schools, colleges and hospital campuses of this nation. Bearing that thought in mind, I’m certain the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting in December that shocked our nation’s conscience shocked yours as well and once again strengthened your personal resolve to be the best that you can be in keeping your people and facilities safe.

With this in mind, at the beginning of this year, I wanted to learn from the best of the best. I wanted to go to Israel. I’d applied to go the year before and had been accepted, yet funding shortages kept me home. In January, however, I was ecstatic to learn that I would be going for two weeks in May and June as a member of the 2013 Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE). GILEE is a project of Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta and is the brainchild of Dr. Robert Friedmann; professor emeritus of criminal justice at GSU.

What Security in Israel Is Really Like

There are a lot of ideas in the United States of what Israel is like. For example, I’d always heard that Israel is an armed society, and virtually everyone routinely carries a weapon. I learned quickly from one of our guides that although the private ownership of firearms in Israel is not forbidden, those not employed in public safety, security or in the military must show a legitimate need to possess a firearm and must have a permit. Examples include being a civilian, yet being a target of a specific credible threat, such as a retired member of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) or police officer, or a person serving as a reservist. With 20% of Israel’s budget going to defense and security, and 80% of the nation’s defense force being reservists, one can comfortably calculate that a significant portion of the public owns a firearm but don’t routinely carry one.

I also thought that there were fences between the Jewish population and Arabs who are mainly of the Muslim faith. I learned quickly that Israel, much like the United States, is a melting pot. Jews, Muslims, along with Christians, Baha’is, Druze and secular Israelis live and work side by side in this country of 7.7 million people. This country, from a standpoint of geography, could fit inside my home state of Georgia, without ever touching the borders. With the exception of the Mediterranean Sea, Israel is bordered on all sides by neighbors that are not generally friendly: Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

One of the keys in the Israeli approach is proper mindset (see Behavioral Profiling Is Useful When Appropriately Applied). Although responding to and dealing with the threats to public safety and security are the responsibilities of the police, determining who and what potentially constitutes a threat is taken very seriously by every Israeli citizen. They have learned to live in a culture where threats come in the form of unprovoked and unpredicted rocket attacks at any hour, or someone detonating a suicide vest in a crowded restaurant. The suicide bomber can come in the form of a man, woman or even the unthinkable, a child.

School Buses Don’t Exist in Israel

As we travelled the streets of Tel-Aviv, my mind turned to stories I’d heard of how there are soldiers securing every school and school bus in Israel. I quickly learned after observing a school from the street and making inquiries of our police escort that this was not the case. It is correct that they do indeed have armed security in every school and that an officer is very visible. All the security officers working in the schools are under the guidance of the Israel police, and the standards are high. Unannounced drills are frequent to test operational readiness.

Regarding school buses, there is no such thing in Israel. Any child not walking or being taken to school rides on public transportation. Now, very often there is an armed IDF soldier on the bus, yet this is happenstance and not by design. When there is a heavily attended school field trip, contracted IDF soldiers, police or armed security officers provide the escort for the group.

Compulsory military service for Israelis (male and female) is mandatory at age 18. Service is three years for men and two years for women. Orthodox Jews, Arabs and those who a have serious chronic medical condition are exempt. That said, you see quite a few young people walking about Israel and on public transportation with fully automatic carbine rifles, ready to load and fire in an instant, but they are generally IDF soldiers. National pride abounds in Israel, and one factor is that most citizens have been soldiers at some point in their lives.

One Israeli civilian told me that when he had children in school during the height of the suicide bombings, he would make the three children ride to school in separate buses. He said that although this was heartbreaking, he felt he needed to do so in order to have some comfort if something happened. He said that mathematically at least, he could perhaps avert tragedy with one of his children.

“This is the reality of life in Israel,” he said matter-of-factly.

Student Crime Is Rare

The Israel schools have assessed the threats and acted accordingly to address them. They have heavy fencing around them to prevent suicide bombers from entering their grounds and buildings, and fences are erected high enough so that anyone trying to lob some explosive device over the top would have a hard time accomplishing the act.

The Israeli “SRO” does not handle law enforcement functions as do many of us within our country. Their function is solely a preventive counter-terror measure to deter, engage if necessary and neutralize a threat.

By all accounts that I received, issues with Israeli school children committing acts that are considered crimes are very rare. Even when this does occur, these events are handled by the school’s headmaster. This is a considerable difference between our style and theirs because as much as we don’t enjoy saying it, American kids can and do commit criminal acts on campus that are sometimes horrendous. This is an unfortunate fact that we face daily as campus police or armed security in our schools. This is life in the United States.
Incorporate These 8 Steps into Your Plan

I gained a priceless new mindset after my trip to Israel. Want to think like an Israeli security specialist? Not to simplify their expertise — because it is amazing — the proper mindset really is not all that difficult. Yet, it is what sets them apart. Rather than thinking that arms alone will defeat any threat, mindset is more important than firepower. This mindset is best kept simple, and I suggest the following:

1) Identify the most likely threats to your students and staff.

2) Solicit the help and active collaboration of stakeholders and form all-hazard threat assessment teams to identify the threats and methods to warn your staff and others about the threats that can be prevented or interrupted. This is provided that they can be mitigated. For example, foul weather cannot be prevented, but it can be mitigated. Concentrate on preparedness for the most likely threats, and use resources that are readily available as guides such as FEMA, the Department of Education, reputable private firms, non-profits and your state’s emergency management.

3) Have a no-hassle and confidential way for the reporting of unusual/concerning activity (e.g. an unattended bag). Any system/method you employ for public reporting should be very user friendly.

4) Develop and communicate as simple of a plan as possible to staff or students on the proper course of action they should take to deal quickly with threats.

5) Train, train, train on that plan, and include students and staff, not just your own public safety staff. Then, evaluate the plan and tweak it where necessary. Also, ensure that safety drill practices and evaluations are a weighted part of staff performance expectations.

6) If you use security cameras and technology, get a vendor with good support and don’t bog down people trying to monitor technology that is beyond their ability to mentally handle. The Israelis were quick to point out that they limit anyone monitoring video to a four hour shift. Anything beyond that greatly decreases human capability to observe.

7) As much as possible, sanitize areas that are to be used for large gatherings on campus. You might not have a K-9 or sophisticated explosive detection equipment on hand, but you can have trained observers. Train them on IED detection and use them. Once you sanitize an area, ensure it is secured and not left unattended before participants begin to arrive.

8) Use community policing to make safety a mindset and culture on your campus so the programs you employ will be sustainable in the future. Soliciting others on campus is a force multiplier, so get students and staff involved. Properly applied technology is a great asset, yet nothing really beats an engaged observer who is properly trained on response.