Traditional security technology is out-of-date, wasteful of school districts’ and police departments’ scarce resources, and doesn’t adequately address security risks schools now face. Today’s education professional recognizes the limited effectiveness of relying on alarms and sirens to scare off burglars, vandals and trespassers. For true protection, an electronic security system must provide a means of verification, deliver 100 percent facility coverage, ensure the earliest possible detection of threats, and dispatch police quickly and with complete information about what is happening on a campus. “Verify, dispatch, arrest” is the new standard for school security.
It used to work
The ads still run on TV today. A family is enjoying a quiet night at home. Suddenly, the sound of breaking glass shatters the peace and the camera pans to a hand reaching through a broken window to unlock the door. The family starts to panic. A masked man pushes open the now unlocked door and WAHWAHWAHWAH … a siren starts to wale. The burglar runs and the family sighs in relief.
For decades, a simple security system with door and window contacts and a few motion sensors connected to an audible alarm adequately met most organizations’ needs.
Now it doesn’t
Unfortunately, technology that used to be sufficient, no longer provides real protection.
Contacts and motion sensors are considered “blind” and “deaf” detection devices. A contact sensor can only send a signal if the connection is severed between the door and the door frame, but there’s no way to know if a staff member opened the door, the wind blew it open or a burglar just went inside. With a motion sensor, a signal is sent if the sensor detects a temperature change, but there’s no way to know if this change was caused by a person walking in front of it or an air conditioner blowing a piece of paper in front of it.
A few consequences of “blind” and “deaf” security systems include:
1. A high rate of false alarms. Without a way to hear or see what is happening at a facility, a monitoring operator must make an uneducated guess about sending police or not. Although they do the best they can with limited technology, ultimately 95-98 percent of alarms end up being false alarms.
2. The security system that cried wolf. Police don’t have to respond to too many false alarms before they begin to either consciously or unconsciously make these calls a low priority, delaying police response time. As police budgets shrink and departments are forced to make cuts in personnel, false alarms are seen as a bigger and bigger waste of scarce resources.
The August 24 USA Today article “Cutbacks force police to curtail calls for some crimes” highlights law enforcement agencies’ struggle over what to do with fewer people available to respond to calls. Many departments see no option but to seriously limit or eliminate responses to calls for property crimes.
3. Delay leads to damage. Delayed response from police to alarm calls results in more damage and losses to an organization when there actually is a “wolf” on campus. Delayed response also gives criminals time to get in and get out before police arrive.
Some burglars test a school’s security system by throwing a rock through a window, then hiding and waiting to see who shows up (police, security guard or school facilities personnel) and how long it takes for someone to get there. Often, such a test demonstrates burglars have at least an hour to break into the school, grab the property they want and make their getaway before anyone responds.
4. Yesterday’s technology doesn’t catch today’s criminals. The limited detection ability of contact and motion sensors hasn’t kept up with the creative criminal of today. Burglars know the weaknesses of traditional security. They also know police have fewer feet on the streets these days and have a good feel for the average police response time to a burglar alarm.
Ultimately, traditional security technology has failed to keep up with the evolving security needs of school districts and it creates more problems than it solves.
The new solution: Verify, Dispatch, Arrest
To address the problems of “deaf” and “blind” sensors, choose technology that gives the monitoring center “ears” and “eyes” at the protected facility. The new solution recognizes alarms as an electronic system of verification, a means of catching burglars in the act, a means of providing complete coverage, a means of providing early detection and knowing what is really happening, a means of dispatching police quickly and giving them complete information of the threat, and a means of providing true peace of mind.
Detection with audio or video technology delivers real-time information of a crime in progress. This allows an operator to make an educated decision and send police. Police arrive on scene quickly, fully informed about the threat and ready to make arrests. Verifiable security systems save time, save school districts’ and police agencies’ resources and deliver a higher level of overall facility security.
To learn more about how Sonitrol Pacific can help your school district, call 1.800.898.1899 and talk with one of our school security specialists.