It’s the proverbial “Quick Fix,” in the form of millions of dollars allocated to “target harden” schools. Eager to demonstrate decisive, quick action to understandably anxious parents, officials have purchased products ranging from mega-expensive state-of-art surveillance technology, to metal detectors, facial recognition software, bullet-proof whiteboards, and fortified entries.
Kenneth Trump, a school safety expert, calls it the triumph of the “wow over the how.”
..While improving physical security in schools is essential (specific recommendations in the report include installing internal locks and limiting the number of entry points), “we cannot convert our schools into prisons and treat our students like prisoners,” said Pringle.
…While educators, school leaders, and school safety experts are championing proven best practices, the $2.7 billion security industry is working overtime – with noticeable success – to convince districts that sophisticated and expensive products and services are the answer to their problems.
According to AP, security firms in 2018 “helped Congress draft a law that committed $350 million to equipment and other school security over the next decade. Nearly 20 states have come up with another $50 million, ad local school districts are reworking budgets to find more money.”
“School safety is the wild, wild West,” security consultant Mason Wooldridge told AP. “Any company can claim anything they want.”
The security hardware and product industry has hijacked school safety, says Ken Trump.
“They have become increasingly organized in their lobbying of Congress and state governments. Their focus includes taking school security out of the hands of education agencies and put under the authority of homeland security departments, which, by their nature, tend of focus on the physical security measures and infrastructure hardening,” Trump says.
According to available research, as a school safety strategy, target hardening doesn’t work and is likely counterproductive.