The car slowly circled through the housing area that surrounded the
elementary school. Eventually, the last bell of the day sounded and
the parking lot filled with students, staff and parents. The man in
the car pulled into the lot and parked at the first available spot.
As he entered the school through one of
the side exits, he smiled at the kids and adults that were hurrying out to
go home. The man was well dressed and appeared to be a parent or
grandparent, probably there to pick up his student. He nodded a greeting to
several teachers as he moved down the hall. One teacher asked if needed
directions. The man replied,
“Yes. Where is the cafeteria?” The teacher gave directions quickly
and returned to getting her students out to the parking lot. The cafeteria
was deserted. The food service workers had been off shift for an hour
already. No one saw the man place a package close to the serving line. Nor,
did anyone take note as he exited the building and drove away.
Late that night, another person arrived
at the same school. The community around the school was asleep. Street
lights made it easy for the stranger, perhaps a woman, to walk around the
building without stumbling. She checked each door and ground floor window. A
side door was locked and shut but the latch had not fully engaged. She knew
there would be one door left open; there always is. She quickly opened the
door and stepped inside. No alarm. The building was hers. Few of the
interior locks were set. She made several trips from her vehicle to
different rooms in the school. Each time bringing in a package and placing
it out of sight.
No one had any idea the school had been violated
until the attack.
The account above
could be an explanation of how the terrorists took down the school in Beslan,
Russia on September 1, 2004. On September 3, the siege came to an abrupt,
deadly end amid explosions and much shooting. As the smoke lifted and order
was restored, 336 people were dead with about half of them being children.
The roof collapsed and buried many under tons of rubble. Fire and explosions
left 107 bodies that could not be identified. Former hostages have told
authorities that the terrorists had weapons and
explosives that had been hidden in the school before the siege that they
used to make this attack so devastating. Many are now asking the question, “How
were they able to get into the school to stockpile weapons?”
The account above is actually a
description of a portion of a
School Site Safety Survey conducted by Keys to Safer Schools.com.
Without specialized burglary tools or any unusual abilities, Keys
staff members routinely are able to enter school buildings without anyone
noticing or raising an alarm. The standard scenario is to place an object
that is not a part of that school in a common use area where it could have a
broad effect on students and staff—if it were a terrorist device. Some of
the schools had electronic monitoring but most did not. Only once has a
staff member been “caught” by law enforcement and this was intentional to
observe the response time and procedure. Some schools have been large with a
full time police force presence. Others have been small with a modest police
force for the entire community. All had vulnerabilities that those who
worked there every day never noticed.
Is there any difference between the school in Beslan and your school?
Is there any difference between the schools that Keys has been
contracted to test and your school? Again, the answer is No.
Unless, you have had a team of experts from outside your school survey and
test your deterrent system, your school probably is as vulnerable to attack
as Beslan or any other school.
Can a school do anything to protect itself?
Learn how to identify an
Unfortunately, many in high places are saying, “No.” However, the truth is
that much can be done to protect your school from a potential, even though
unlikely, terrorist attack.
Metal detectors, motion sensors and security cameras are good ideas, but
costly and technical.
Emergency Response/Crisis Training is the most efficient means of
prevention available to today. Israel is often in the news with terrorist
attacks, but their intelligence community credits the average citizen with
thwarting as much as 80% of planned attacks through their level of
awareness. The same will work in any environment.
With proper and repeated training, the
scenario above would be very different.
No one would be allowed to enter an exit. Every staff member would challenge
anyone without a visible “Visitor
Badge.” Every door and window would be checked daily by a specified
person. All staff, including bus drivers and custodians, would be trained to
visually scan their assigned areas at the beginning of each day, looking for
anything out of place.
If the events of 9/11 and now 9/01 have
caused you to question the level of preparedness at your school, contact
Keys to Safer Schools.com today for assistance.
Programs to Combat Violence
Keys To Safer Schools.com
you have any comments or questions please Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.