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Click to read

Click to read ANSER's Homeland Security Newsletter (4 July 2003)

July 4, 2003

Homeland Security System

And Schools

A Lesson from History for Use Today

What should Schools be concerned about?

   March 25, 2003


Greg Toppo - Associated Press writes that a report was recently completed among a group of law enforcement officers working with schools. It found that 95 percent of respondents described their schools as vulnerable to terrorism.
Most cited security gaps, was too little training and support or inadequate crisis plans that, in many cases, simply have not been tested.
"The most critical lesson learned from 911 is that training and preparedness saves lives," a member stated
. "Our federal and state governments must partner more closely with local school districts and their school police officers in order to have truly comprehensive homeland security planning."

Countering Terrorism - What is your school doing?





Readiness +

= Safety


According to Greg Toppo - Associated Press; A written report of law enforcement professionals, found that:

  • 83 percent said getting into their schools was very easy or somewhat easy

  • 55 percent said their schools' crisis plans were inadequate

  • 52 percent said the plans have never been tested

  • 55 percent said their schools have no mail-handling procedures for dealing with mail suspected of containing anthrax or other deadly substances or with other suspicious packages

  • 74 percent said their schools do not educate parents or communicate effectively on school safety, security or crisis planning

  • A Lesson from History for Use Today

    What ifa single person whose hatred for a nation as a whole outweighs his moral convictions of right and wrong is given the opportunity to make that entire nation gasp and notice him for a few brief moments.

    What ifthis person had been raised from infancy in a culture that taught dying for such a cause is the highest reward of all eternity and no opposing views were ever allowed.

    What ifthat person picked your state, your city, your school, your child for his moment of glory. When a tyrant or a nation does not have the Army, Navy or Air Force to be a global power, history teaches that he will find ways to have a global impact. Terrorism is the common term for such tactics. The attacks of 9/11 were merely the opening shots fired in this campaign.

    History provides us an example of a similar effort. Very shortly after the attack on the United States by the Empire of Japan, the US launched a mission to take the war to the Japanese homeland. This was a conventional attack but the method was unconventional, i.e., bombers launched from carriers with no recovery possible. Known as the Doolittle Raid, this was not a suicide mission as was 9/11, however every pilot volunteered knowing that they would not be able to return. It demonstrates the historical impact of bringing a war home to those who usually only know of it through the media. The same type of response can be expected should the US invade a country that has demonstrated terrorism as an integral part of their defense system. The United States military is the best equipped, best trained, best disciplined in the history of the world. Television sets around the world demonstrated the futility of direct conflict with this force. However, those same televisions also showed the world on 9/11 that America can be hit at home. The same fervor that led pilots to volunteer for the legendary one-way Doolittle Raid is alive and well in the hearts of patriots and zealots from other countries. The Doolittle Raid had no military significance but it did have tremendous psychological importance. A terrorist attack against the US would similarly have little or no military objective. The goal would be the greatest political and psychological impact possible. We can, and should, expect a dramatic response. Knowing where, how and when is the challenge. Preparation is the Key. Each of us must play our part in being prepared for this worldwide conflict with very real local implications.

    Where will they strike? Should schools be concerned? Yes! Schools are listed as "Soft Targets". Did you know that the 9/11 attack was symbolic and the goal was to induce fear.  Did you know the following:


    • Our Schools hold our nations most precious possession...  OUR CHILDREN

    • Our Schools have the largest daily gathering of people in most of our communities and at a set time each day.

    • Our Schools are symbolic of America freedom; there is even an US flag in front of every one.

    • Our Schools have little funding for security and most are ill prepared to protect our Children.

    • Our Schools are Soft Targets...meaning as the primary targets become more difficult to hit, terrorists look for easier ones - Soft Targets.

    • Our Schools have a number of vulnerabilities, ex. Food Service, Vending Services, Bus Transportation, etc (see below).

    • Our Schools do not know what to do when the nations codes are heighten.  Why?  No Training and/or specific guidance.


    It is difficult to tell schools where and how to be prepared for fear of giving terrorists ideas that they may not have thought of otherwise. However, Keys would like to give all schools three areas that need special attention:

    • Delivery Services (parcel and vending machines)

    • Food Service

    • Transportation


    Delivery Services: Do you know who stocks your vending machines? What security have those drink cans had prior to being placed on the lips of your students in your school? Do you ever drink from a can without washing or wiping the top first? Domestic terrorists have paved the way for the fanatic terrorist by showing how easy it is to introduce a foreign substance into pain remedies while they are still on the shelf. News reports tend to expound on exotic toxins but there are hundreds of substances available in daily live that no one wants in their snack foods.

    If someone wears Brown Pants and baseball cap or a Uniform with a soft drink name on it, is he or she allowed uncontrolled access to your campus? It is possible to buy or make these uniforms.

    If these people have unescorted access to hallways where classes are in session, they could be in a position for taking terrorist activity to your students. Again, avoid tunnel vision on the exotic and larger activities in the news. Look at other countries that have been experiencing these activities and note that a very small explosive still creates panic and terror.

    Food Services

    Food Service: Your Food Service personnel are checked-out by the Health Department and Law Enforcement, but what about the people who store the food and drive the trucks? Is there any security of the kitchen to prevent someone from bringing in a small bottle or vial? A single terrorist (part time kitchen help) with a pocket full of bad chicken can spread enough salmonella bacteria on food preparation surfaces to disable all who eat there. The water supply is critical. We wash continuously during food preparation to make sure there are no germs, but what if the water supply has been contaminated? And once again, this does not need to be the exotic toxin in the reservoir. Any supply system with a flush valve system can have such everyday bacteria as ecoli, botulism, and salmonella introduced into it. Security of water systems must be as near absolute as humanly possible. Food service tends to produce a lot of trash. This should be removed daily. Trash is a common camouflage for explosive devices.


    Transportation: Kids on buses are vulnerable from many directions. They represent a lot of targets in a small box on top of 50 gallons of gasoline. What security is provided to your buses at night? Are there easy ambush sites on routes? How would a driver communicate an unexpected event and how would you respond? The first step that every school should take is to convert the entire bus fleet to diesel as soon as the budget will allow. It may smell stronger but is very difficult to make explode. Be extremely strict on background checks for drivers. Conduct walk around inspections before entering the bus each trip. Look for fingerprints left around fuel doors and hoods. Install, repair and inspect your fencing around the bus park. Make sure buses are not parked so close to fences that it would be possible for someone to stick their hand through the fence and touch the bus. If buses go home with drivers, have them take extra time on inspections. Develop evacuation plans that include maximizing the number of buses available and procuring additional buses from neighboring schools and local churches. Do the same for extra drivers. In most schools, a large number of drivers will be school teachers. In an emergency, the teachers place is with their class, not driving a bus. Communication is essential. Make sure that all drivers have a means to communicate while on routes. Provide drivers with maps and crisis plans so that they can be redirected while traveling and not drive into a known dangerous situation. Do not be paranoid, but be prepared.

    If your school's Crisis Preparedness Plan does not address these, please get help today. If your local law enforcement agency cannot help you put these and other terrorism related plans into action, let Keys help today!

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    Once again we ask ourselves, "Have we done all that we can to insure the safety of our schools?" Keys To Safer is making a special offer to any school to review your crisis planning and provide a written critique of any shortcomings found. To take advantage of this offer, mail your school’s Crisis Plan and supporting documents to:

    Keys To Safer
    P.O. Box 296
    Bryant, AR 72089-0296.

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