U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
National Institute of Justice
DOJ Seal
Title Page
Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Security Concepts and Operational Issues
(Chapter 1   The Big Picture, Continued)

A spectrum of physical security approaches

Exhibit 1.05 It will be assumed that consequences for undesirable actions have been put into place at a school; otherwise, there is little or no deterrence to be gained from any physical security measures designed to detect, delay, and respond to an incident. A wide array of security measures involving people, campus modifications, and/or technologies can be considered for most concerns, keeping in mind the unique characteristics of each school. A recurring message from school administrators is that the majority of their problems are brought onto campus by outsiders or expelled/ suspended students so measures to keep outsiders off campus will generally be of global benefit. (Although this is not the case in all incidents, school administrators quite often find it more palatable to parents if security measures are justified based on the exterior threat rather than the suspicion of their children.) The following is a partial list of possible security measures to address various security issues:

(Most of the following suggested security measures are in use in one or more U.S. schools, but a few may not yet have been attempted. In any case, there is no comprehensive body of knowledge regarding their effectiveness. More research is needed to get a national picture on particular technologies. Also keep in mind that a school should always contact its legal counsel before participating in any new security program that involves searching or testing of people or property.)

Outsiders on campus

  • Posted signs regarding penalties for trespassing.
  • Enclosed campus (fencing).
  • Guard at main entry gate to campus.
  • Greeters in strategic locations.
  • Student I.D.s or badges.
  • Vehicle parking stickers.
  • Uniforms or dress codes.
  • Exterior doors locked from the outside.
  • A challenge procedure for anyone out of class.
  • Cameras in remote locations.
  • School laid out so all visitors must pass through front office.
  • Temporary "fading" badges issued to all visitors.

Fights on campus

  • Cameras.
  • Duress alarms.
  • Whistles.


  • Graffiti-resistant sealers.
  • Glass-break sensors.
  • Aesthetically pleasing wall murals (these usually are not hit by graffiti).
  • Law enforcement officers living on campus.
  • 8-foot fencing.
  • Well-lit campus at night.


  • Interior intrusion detection sensors.
  • Property marking (including microdots) to deter theft.
  • Bars on windows.
  • Reinforced doors.
  • Elimination of access points up to rooftops (exhibit 1.5).
  • Cameras.
  • Doors with hingepins on secure side.
  • Bolting down computers and TVs.
  • Locating high-value assets in interior rooms.
  • Key control.
  • Biometric entry into rooms with high-value assets.
  • Law enforcement officer living on campus.


  • Drug detection swipes.
  • Hair analysis kits for drug use detection (intended for parental application).
  • Drug dogs.
  • Removal of lockers.
  • Random searches.
  • Vapor detection of drugs.


  • No open campus at lunch.
  • Breathalyzer test equipment.
  • No access to vehicles.
  • No lockers.
  • Clear or open mesh backpacks.
  • Saliva test kits.


  • Walk-through metal detectors.
  • Hand-held metal detectors.
  • Vapor detection of gun powder.
  • Crimestopper hotline with rewards for information.
  • Gunpowder detection swipes.
  • Random locker, backpack, and vehicle searches.
  • X-ray inspection of bookbags and purses.

Malicious actsExhibit 1.06

  • Setback of all school buildings from vehicle areas (exhibit 1.6).
  • Inaccessibility of air intake and water source.
  • All adults on campus required to have a badge.
  • Vehicle barriers near main entries and student gathering areas.

Parking lot problems

  • Cameras.
  • Parking decals.
  • Fencing.
  • Card I.D. systems for parking lot entry.
  • Parking lots sectioned off for different student schedules.
  • Sensors in parking areas that should have no access during schoolday.
  • Roving guards.
  • Bike patrol.

False fire alarms

  • Sophisticated alarm systems that allow assessment of alarms (and cancellation if false) before they become audible.
  • Boxes installed over alarm pulls that alarm locally (screamer boxes).

Bomb threats

  • Caller I.D. on phone system.
  • Crimestopper program with big rewards for information.
  • Recording all phone calls, with a message regarding this at the beginning of each incoming call.
  • All incoming calls routed through a district office.
  • Phone company support.
  • No pay phones on campus.
  • Policy to extend the school year when plagued with bomb threats and subsequent evacuations.

Bus problems

  • Video cameras and recorders within enclosures on buses.
  • I.D.s required to get on school buses.
  • Security aides on buses.
  • Smaller buses.
  • Duress alarm system or radios for bus drivers.

Teacher safety

  • Duress alarms.
  • Roving patrols.
  • Classroom doors left open during class.
  • Cameras in black boxes in classrooms.
  • Controlled access to classroom areas.


Research Report:   The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools