Historically, school security in the United States has prioritized protecting property rather than lives. And despite an alarming increase in violent intruder incidents occurring in US schools since April 1999, many hold onto the idea that schools are sanctuaries where the focus is on learning – without fear of violence and without the need for systems to secure the safety of lives.

But the increasing number of lives lost since April 1999 as a result of intruders in school tragedies has become a burden too large to ignore. The active and vocal response by high school students across the US to the Parkland High School tragedy in Florida has moved the issue of school security to the forefront of national debate.

While school authorities, parents, students, and legislators begin a necessary and real discourse about school security, professionals in the architectural, construction, and security industries are already working together to implement an integrated plan to address this issue.

“Schools must accept that this is now life as it is, prepare for the unexpected, and harden access to their property and people,” says professional architect Dennis Elledge of St. Louis, Missouri. “We all must think differently now.”

Elledge regularly studies and assesses the need for improved school security systems. “Historically, school security systems have been focused on preventing theft of property, but now we must shift to thinking outside this box – and toward securing lives.”

Elledge believes that architects are in a pivotal position to help make the design and implementation of school security systems truly holistic, integrated, and manageable – both financially and logistically. “Schools need a long-range comprehensive security plan and must work on it for 5 to 10 to 15 years,” he says. “Lives are at risk. So schools need a comprehensive understanding of their security needs, an organized, long-term plan of prioritized actions to follow, and solutions that work with their current and future budgets. This is the most responsible and accountable path forward.”

Dennis Elledge is a St. Louis based Professional Architect (DE|SL LLC, Architecture – deslarc.com) who collaborates with Cam-Dex Security Corporation to plan and implement integrated security systems in new construction as well as building remodeling, additions, and upgrades. He is passionate about integrating the disciplines of architectural design, construction methods, and security systems to improve the safety of both individuals and property.

Contact Cam-Dex Security Corporation today at 800-883-8773 to discuss your school’s security needs with one of our professionals!

Next month Dennis addresses the need for schools to perform a Comprehensive Risk Assessment of their facility security needs.