Creating safe schools is the responsibility of the entire community in which a school or school system resides, but responsibility for maintaining them on a day-to-day basis lies principally with school administrators and, to a lesser extent, the local law enforcement agency. To assist schools in this task, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have sponsored, often jointly, both research and demonstration programs to collect data and test useful new ideas that will expand understanding of school violence and disorder and lead to new programs to reduce these problems.
This document provides basic guidelines to law enforcement agencies and school administrators and encourages their collaboration as they decide what, if any, security technologies should be considered as they develop safe school strategies. In the wake of recent high-profile school tragedies with multiple homicides, many of this Nation's communities have urged their school districts to incorporate security technology into their safety programs. This guide should help schools, in concert with their law enforcement partners, analyze their vulnerability to violence, theft, and vandalism, and suggest possible technologies to address these problems in an effective manner. This guide describes existing commercially available technologies and urges thoughtful consideration of not only the potential safety benefits that may accrue from their use but also the costs that schools may incur for capital investments, site modifications, additional staffing, training, and equipment maintenance and repair.
Topic areas included in this guide are: security concepts and operational issues, video surveillance, weapons detection devices (walk-through and hand-held metal detectors and x-ray baggage scanners), entry controls, and duress alarms.
Though this document does not replace the use of appropriate expert advice or provide detailed instructions on installing equipment or making cost estimates, it does offer practical guidance that should enable schools and law enforcement agencies to make better informed decisions on security technology.
Safety and security technology can only be one tool in a comprehensive program that each school must
develop to create a safe learning environment that is perceived to be safe by all students and staff.
Director, National Institute of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice
Director, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program
U. S. Department of Education
Research Report: The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools