96 The Comprehensive Handbook of School Safety
CREATING A PHYSICAL SECURITY SYSTEM
Public school systems could be considered part of our nation’s critical infrastruc-
ture. Critical infrastructure encompasses the assets, systems, and networks, whether
physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruc-
tion would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, public
health or safety, or any combination thereof (U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
2010). The school environment is a bastion of freedom, where free-thinking, learn-
ing, expression, and action based on one’s values, beliefs, and feelings are encour-
aged and celebrated. This is where we inuence society and build the future. It is in
this environment that precautions must be taken to safeguard the individuals who
live, learn, and work there, and there are physical and informational assets of the
institution that must be protected from loss and subversion. Numerous threats can
manifest themselves, and through an array of physical security system components,
measures can be taken, in whole or in part, to best meet the needs of protecting
people, property, and the environment. These measures can be viewed from the per-
spective of various environments.
froM hosPital eMergenCy dePartMents
A key risk factor for violence, and a key for its prevention, may be long waiting
times and frustrated individuals. A well-managed hospital emergency department
can reduce that tension and the resulting risk of acting out. The inability to meet
patient or family expectations contributes to violence—patients want information,
access to a wide range of services, good discharge planning, compassion from staff,
involvement in decision making, and high-quality care, and they want it all quickly.
Although a lot of the focus is on patients who are drunk, on drugs, mentally ill,
or gang members, there are other potential sources of violence as well. Domestic
violence situations involving staff members can spill onto the hospital campus.
Disgruntled workers or former employees can cause trouble. The security depart-
ment has to be prepared for all of these scenarios.
Among the common options for improving security are metal detectors, secu-
rity cameras, and dedicated security patrols. Hospitals can also set up separate and
secure areas for psychiatric patients and prisoners from jails or prisons. Some hos-
pitals choose to restrict access not just to the emergency department but to all parts
of the hospital using an electronic badge system. At Community Medical Center
in Fresno, metal detectors, cameras, limited access, and a manned security booth
substantially decreased the number of weapons conscated in the patient care area.
However, the study did not nd a reduction in reported assaults by patients, indicat-
ing the continued need for staff training in the management of violent patients and
potentially violent situations (Greene, 2008).
froM the CheMiCal health and safety indUstry
It is important to assess facilities’ attractiveness as a potential target. This addresses
the nature of any special hazards present at the facility and considers the potential