No matter what community you live in, school safety is a top priority for everyone. With the start of the school year right around the corner for many local school districts, it’s important to evaluate your district’s current security coverage—and whether there are any improvements that can be made to better protect both your students and your staff. Because EPS Security is local, we are not only interested in better serving our customers, but we’re also invested in protecting our friends and family members within these schools as well.
Protecting schools with a comprehensive security solution
The turn of the millennia saw a downward trend in violent incidents in schools overall, a trend attributed to increased vigilance on the part of districts across the country aggressively pursuing enhanced security options in the light of high-profile tragedies. However, the last few years have seen a reversal of this trend, making fortifying your facilities’ security systems more important than ever. EPS Security installs and maintains multi-faceted security systems for school districts across the state, including larger metro school districts. With 60+ years of experience behind us, we are experts in the field at building layered security solutions in school buildings and are often tasked with finding ways to improve or update existing systems for our customers. There are several components we ask facilities managers to consider:
Intrusion alarm systems
While certain staffers may be onsite well into the night, the odds are there will be a stretch of time each night that a school is empty. Having EPS install door contacts, motion sensors, and window break sensors can ensure that your building is off-limits after hours, alerting our Monitoring Center that something is awry. It’s also a proven method to decrease after-hours and summer-time vandalism.
Fire alarm systems
While the words “school safety” typically evoke images of violent incidences in the minds of most people, one of the most critical components of keeping children safe during the school day is a high-quality fire alarm system. Studies show that over 4,000 fires occur a year in school buildings, the majority of which are caused by cooking, heating issues, and malicious intent. EPS fire devices are monitored 24/7, so emergency services will be dispatched regardless of the time of day in the event of a fire, carbon monoxide leak, or other related life-safety issue.
Having an exceptional alarm system only matters if you have a top-notch Monitoring Center to receive the alarms and dispatch the authorities. EPS Security’s Monitoring Center is one of the few alarm centers in the nation that is TMA Five Diamond, UL/FM-certified, so you know your business is in good hands. It doesn’t hurt that our Monitoring Center is located at our office in Grand Rapids—not halfway across the country—so we can process your alarms and dispatch them with lightning efficiency.
Card access systems
Old brick-and-mortar keys and locks have fallen out of fashion, largely because they are easy obstacles to overcome. School districts are increasingly adopting full-fledged access control systems for the sake of both security and ease of use. Card access systems control who enters a door, when they can enter it, and what doors said person has access to. It’s also possible to program weekly and holiday schedules, a feature especially handy for accommodating the busy school year calendar. Facilities managers also love card access systems because they allow for administration of multiple sites from a single location, meaning every door can be locked down in a high-risk scenario at the push of a button.
Guest cards have also become a hot trend in school systems. Quickly activated cards allow parents or other visitors into specific areas of the school. If a guest fails to return the card to the school, it can be deactivated remotely.
An intercom requires visitors to buzz in, giving designated staff the chance to verify the identity of people requesting permission to enter through both voice and video. These are often used at front doors and entry vestibules while most of the exterior doors remain locked at all times, funneling all prospective traffic through one point of ingress to allow for proper review. In recent years, intercom systems have become standard security features and are a critical component of any complete security solution. Intercoms are a must have for any school system prioritizing security updates.
Video surveillance systems
The number of camera installations in schools have exploded in the last decade. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that more than 80 percent of schools—and around 94 percent of high schools—have surveillance systems installed. The expansion of commercial video systems is due in part by the fact that high-quality surveillance systems have become more affordable as camera technology has advanced.
Video monitoring systems have come a long way from the fuzzy camera shots of the past, and the wide availability of different camera models makes covering every necessary inch of your school easier than ever. Increasingly popular multi-sensor cameras can be mounted at intersections of hallways, allowing for complete coverage of highly trafficked areas. The presence of cameras can act as a major deterrent against potential criminal acts, providing an extra later of security for both students and staff alike.
Card access, cameras, and alarm system devices are essential facets of a complete security package—when they’re working. EPS Security provides options for preventative maintenance of these systems to make sure EPS security devices are functioning exactly as they should when you need them most. We also offer service agreements for our products. If something is not working properly due to natural causes, the cost of replacement and service is covered. Ongoing system maintenance and service is critical to ensure a security system remains functional, operating on day 1000 as well as it did on day one.
Stringent security for safer schools
The fact that schools remain a target for internal and external violence is an unfortunate truth. 3,380 threats were levied against schools during the 2017-2018 school year alone, so making sure your facility is working with top-of-the-line devices–and a top-of-the-line security company–is of the utmost importance. If your system is a few years old, or if your schools don’t yet have cameras, intercoms, or card access systems, it’s worth checking in with one of our experienced Security Consultants to see how we can help to fortify you facilities–and do our best to help you protect students and staff alike.