School safety has become a concern for families, communities, school boards and lawmakers over the past decade. Considering events that have transpired over the years—that we will refrain from mentioning—school safety programs have become a much needed target for reevaluation. Unfortunately most schools and school districts in New York, NYC and across the nation have yet to reevaluate their school safety programs, or even worse, are using programs that clearly do not take into account any and all possible threats to the assets (children and staff). Now more than ever, schools’ safety plans must be reevaluated to uncover any vulnerabilities, assuming they were evaluated externally in the first place. Yet who is qualified to perform such a monumental task?
Meet former Chief John W. Cutter, Founder and President of John Cutter Investigations, who oversaw all counter-terrorism related activities within the intelligence division of the NYPD, the NYPD international and national liaison programs. He was also designated the commanding officer of the New York/New Jersey Regional Intelligence Center, a multi-agency command center which collected, analyzed and distributed intelligence materials from a local, state and federal level. And after retiring from public service and moving into the private sector, he was the lead proponent in developing the intelligence fusion center that was utilized during the 2004 Republican National Convention that allowed the convention to operate nearly incident free.
While John was involved in the counter-terrorism and intelligence communities, he feels his expertise can have an immense impact on school safety. The same security programs and protocols he learned and utilized during his career in the public sector and later the private sector, he intends to apply to schools through conducting comprehensive school safety assessments in New York and NYC.
John Cutter and his team provided below an example of the methodology to conduct real New York school safety assessment:
I. Vulnerability/Security Assessment (Review)
A complete and thorough review of the prior assessment done at [the NY school]. This includes a meticulous review of the existing document, as well as reviewing the actual updates done as a result of this assessment. Determining the effectiveness of those updates, and the need to act on existing recommendations.
II. Vulnerability/Security Assessment
Should it be determined that a more up to date assessment be conducted, the following methodology would be utilized. It begins with observations of the area in which the school is located and a thorough inspection of the structure itself, along with arrival and dismissal practices. Physical security devices and/or systems are also examined for functionality and adequacy.
Cognizant management/security personnel are interviewed briefly, in order to establish the nature and extent of the current security profile at the school. The profile of the school within the community, and the nature and criticality of the day–to-day functions as it relates to security at the school are evaluated. Throughout the entire process we shall maintain the sanctity of the school as a safe haven and learning environment. We want to develop a program where the students, parents and faculty can feel confident that they are in an open healthy learning environment while being fully secure and safe from potential violence. We will consider any history of prior security related problems at the school as well as events from around the world that could have an impact on the daily operation. Perceived threats are identified, and the adequacy of the existing security profile to protect the assets (The Children/Staff) at the site against the identified threats is evaluated. In addition potential unforeseen threat scenarios are considered that could have an adverse effect on the schools operations.
If appropriate, recommendations for improvements to the existing security profile at the school will be developed. The goal of these recommendations is to decrease the vulnerability of the assets at the school and to increase the level of protection for these assets. The goal of such recommendations is to provide a more effective level of protection for the assets that might be at risk, while maintaining an open confident learning environment in a reasonable, cost-effective manner.
III. Evaluation of Security Staff
The process by which the security staff will be evaluated shall consist of a layered approach. All security personnel from the director to part time security officers will be interviewed. We will also conduct observations of the staff performing their day-to-day responsibilities as well as during active drills conducted at the school. We will check each officers New York State license to ensure it is valid, and ascertain the various training courses they have received prior to assignment at [the NY school].
IV. Review of Policies and Procedures
Existing security policies/procedures and protocols are identified, reviewed and evaluated as it relates to security, emergency action/incident plans, as well as post incident plans. (Including existing Emergency Manual wall hanging.) Redesign or develop policies and procedures if deemed necessary that follow industry standards, and government guidelines. Redesign of emergency manual wall hanging, making it user friendly during an incident.
Utilizing certified trainers to design and implement a training regimen for the school personnel. The training classes would be designed specifically for each of the various components of school personnel. Security staff, faculty, administration and support staff. The level of training would vary based on need, security officers requiring the most extensive training, on how to deal with day-to-day operations, emergency situations, etc. The remainder of the faculty and staff would receive training in the emergency manual procedures, and how to respond under such circumstances. (See appendix “a” for suggested training curriculum) Obviously the appendix of suggested training would be refined once we have interviewed the security staff to determine their current level of expertise and training.
John Cutter Investigations believes that only once thorough school safety assessment are conducted throughout New York, schools will continue to be vulnerable. Our contention is that if security and threat assessments are regularly conducted for business enterprises, why should they not be routinely conducted for America’s children?
Feel free to contact our Connecticut office at (203) 658-6758 or fill out our form below with any questions, concerns about our methodology when it comes to our school safety assessments. We also invite you to a free a consultation.
School Safety Assessments in New York:
New York City
New York State
New Rochelle NY
Mount Vernon NY
Niagara Falls NY
Long Beach NY
The Bronx NY
Staten Island NY
White Plains NY
Long Island NY