October 2002 the Washington
Times reported that intelligence agencies have received
information that extremist terrorist groups have targeted schools in
America. This includes elementary through university.
November 2003 Homeland Security released memo stating that the
terrorist groups responsible for the attacks of 9/11 are shifting
their emphasis to secondary
The memo specified schools as among the soft targets and included a
photograph of a possible chemical weapon that would be used. In May
2004 they issued a memo about how they may penetrate "soft
targets" like dressing up as a pregnant woman and in realist this
is a suicide bomber. In a July
2003 they issued another memo alert about stolen uniforms and
identification as means of gaining entry.
Last week Homeland Security
announced that the heart of America’s
financial sector is at risk and issued an Alert Condition
those institutions. Many of the reports on which they relied were two
years old. It has been difficult for Secretary Ridge to convince the
public that the threat is real and credible when citing these
documents. It is important to take this threat to heart and to note
that the information about targeting schools was collected during the
same time frame.
To provide a better understanding of
intelligence, it helps to think of it as a process.
When iron ore is mined, tons of
dirt and rock are collected from the earth. This is then processed
over a period of time to filter the dirt out of the ore bearing rocks,
which are then crushed and fed into a steel mill. Other ingredients
are added from other sources. The final result is a useful, steel
Information is much like the
mining portion of the process. Tons of it are collected, much is
simply dirt. Parts are like iron; strong, basic but with limited
applications. The addition of other elements converts iron to steel
and information to intelligence. The process takes time. Two-year old
information can be valuable when other more recent elements are
considered. Every Administrator and Teacher should pay attention to
the announcements from the Department of Homeland Security.
Once convinced that terrorists may strike schools, far too many
Administrators have chosen to play the numbers game. That is, with
over a million schools from which to choose, the odds of any specific
school being a target are very small. With very tight budgets and more
to be done there is money to pay for it, who can blame them for
letting this issue slide to the back burner. However, the question is,
should your school’s Terrorism Contingency Plan be playing the odds
or proactive planning?
Keys To Safe Schools.com can help. We believe, as most of you do,
that proactive planning is the best solution. We also believe that
schools are not generally well equipped for this type of planning.
There are a number of schools that are large enough to have full time
professional security staffs. Many of these are manned with former
military and law enforcement personnel who have the background for
terrorism planning. The vast majority of schools are not so blessed.
Most are staffed with professional educators who do an admirable job
of educating our youth. They do not have the experience nor the time
to develop truly viable contingency plans. It is far more efficient to
contract for such a service. When seeking outside help, avoid the
"bargain hunters" trap. There are free programs available
from government and private agencies, as well as inexpensive "off
the shelf" plans designed to fit every school and situation. The
old proverb, "You get what you pay for" is very much the
rule in contingency planning.
Here is what Keys can offer:
The Crisis Continuum
A completed project. Not a book of theories and concepts to help
you write your own.
A plan tailored specifically to your school.
Within your budget constraints.
Using the actual resources you have available.
Fully integrated planning using all First Responders and
A workable terrorism plan that will serve your school well in
the event of a natural or man-made crisis other than terrorism.
Contact one of the professionals at
Keys to discuss how your school
can move from "playing the odds" to having a comprehensive,
fully integrated, pro-active Contingency Plan.
Frank G. Green
Keys To Safer Schools
you have any comments or questions please Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.