Los Angeles County Education Office:
Boost Program The Los Angeles County Office of Education in Downey, Calif., is tough on security. Overseeing nearly 350 sites within the county and over 6,000 employees, the security operation maximizes and organizes itself to meet specific needs. Serving for five years as the education office’s first security services manager, Jack Eckles works in its division of business operations. He continues to forge ahead with the aim of seamless integration of standardized systems of alarms, access control and video surveillance. Technology sources include PCSC, Torrance, Calif., which provides for the integration of third-party vendor equipment and services to connect the security systems.
One of Eckles’ first goals was to move the video surveillance system over to digital. The video equipment itself consists predominantly of tape recorders from Surrey, British Columbia-based Gyyr/Silent Witness. The majority of the cameras are from Sony, Park Ridge, N.J. Eckles says he is in the midst of switching over to digital recording and is leaning toward Chantilly, Va.-based Dedicated Micros.
“When I got here, my focus was to get away from relying on site administrators to have to change tapes daily,” Eckles says. “I wanted to get away from the human equation and hook up digital recording systems with Internet access. We also have over 125 cameras between three administrative buildings. The main security office is pretty crowded when you have 200 videotapes.”
As a policy, the security operation keeps tapes for 30 days, which means going through 30 tapes a month. “As we expand, it becomes space-prohibitive,” Eckles says, adding that digital recorders translate to “a tremendous space saver for us.”
The entire project could become a three-year undertaking. According to Eckles, the security department plans to grow and learn with its information technology department to fully maximize digital’s potential.
Changing of the GuardEckles’ security operation emphasizes the importance and advantages of standardization and integration of alarms, video security and electronic access controls with central station emergency response. But there also is a close relationship of the organization with its contract officer force, with particular emphasis on retention of quality officers and connection to the emergency response program. Eckles keeps close control over the contracted guard personnel, and every five years puts the guarding contract out for bid.
“Close attention must be made to contracted personnel,” he says. “Our aim is to make them feel a part of the organization. When we switch out new companies on new contracts, we have the option of taking the best with us and rolling them over into the new company. In our last go-around, we were able to move over 85 percent of the staff.”
To make contracted security officers feel as though they are part of the county’s security staff, Eckles says he talks “to” the officers, not “down” to them. By not being arbitrary or capricious in his relationships with the security guarding personnel, he says he is more of a mentor. If a guard makes a mistake, Eckles says he responds in an instructional way.
“You have to back your contract employees,” he says. “You have to let them know that you back them to have their trust.”
Milwaukee Public Schools: Monitoring, Cooperation Reduce ThreatsThe bottom line for Peter Pochowski at the Milwaukee public school system is the measurable reduction in threats coming from in-house, fewer drug suspensions and smoother coordination with police.
As director of safety and security for the Milwaukee school district, Pochowski says the bottom-line achievements go a long way to accomplishing his team’s mission of “providing peace of mind to all our stakeholders.”
The operation has diversified and deepened security through use of a digital telephone system that enables security personnel to track threatening calls made within the school district’s facilities. There is greater and closer cooperation with local law enforcement agencies than in many other municipalities. And the system is in the second year of using a K9 drug unit to sweep secondary schools.
“We have a community here, an urban environment,” Pochowski says. “The idea is to create a mindset within the community so that students and staff are free to conduct their business,” which is learning. “In order to have a vibrant city, your school system is critical,” he says.
Pochowski uses electronic security equipment as a “force enhancer.” While one person can see a lot, one person monitoring a number of cameras can see even more.
“We see an advantage in using electronic security devices,” he says. “In the few schools where we do not have cameras, we have electronic monitors.”
Digital Phone System AddedMilwaukee’s public schools now have a digital telephone system, which plays an essential role in crime prevention.
“Any phone calls made in the system, we can track,” Pochowski says.
Whatever the technology or security program, Pochowski notes that the security operation focuses on the district’s goal to have the best schools with the best teachers, with a safe and secure educational environment as a critical part of that commitment.
“We have zero tolerance for situations that endanger that safe and secure environment,” says Pochowski, a former captain with the Milwaukee Police Department, who continues to value a deep commitment to community. “Our safety and security operation is customer oriented,” he stresses. “We are here to help get our kids through school successfully.”
Using a mixture of programs, policies and electronics, Milwaukee’s schools have lowered the number of incidents. A security console at the entrance to high schools alerts security personnel to door breaches. Digital cameras and recorders provide a high level of security while also identifying people involved in door-access events. Cameras provide views from remote locations, assisting first responders and police. The digital telephone system has cut down nuisance threats coming from inside school buildings, and the K9 unit has lowered drug-possession suspensions. The program has achieved success thanks to use of technology as well as a fine focus.
University of Maryland: Integrated Operations Center Pays OffGathering and sharing information has paid off for the Department of Public Safety at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. As public safety manager, Craig Chucker worked with his team to bring security integration to the school.
“When I first arrived at the university, we were monitoring just a few cameras, with alarms in another part of the operation, and electronic access control in yet another,” Chucker says, who quickly determined that an integrated approach was needed. “What I did was merge all three together. The security operations center now monitors alarms, access and cameras. It’s an ‘everything’ approach that has paid off.”
Chucker also has addressed the need to protect computers and similar devices on campus, using electronic tags on computers and hardwiring them into alarms so the devices can be monitored.
Himself a former University of Maryland student, Chucker brought that perspective to his current job as well as retail security experience from Neiman Marcus and a business operations background from running his own security firm, which he sold in 1996.
At the university, there is increased attention to protecting faculty and staff as well as minimizing theft of hardware and intellectual property, Chucker says. “We employ biometrics, including finger and hand geometry,” he says.
On the student side, the public safety manager has an aggressive program of security cameras.
“We do our own installation of cameras as well as maintenance of the cameras,” Chucker adds.
To aid in protecting students, staff and visitors as they walk on campus, the university uses an emergency telephone system from Talk-A-Phone in Chicago.
More of the BestThe University of Memphis has upgraded its communications network to use the latest in wireless technology. The advance, from Avaya Inc. of Basking Ridge, N.J., allows students and faculty untethered freedom to move about the 1,160-acre campus while using laptops, personal digital assistants and other devices to connect to the Internet and the university’s intranet. “Wireless is a key technology advantage for the university because it overcomes the dual barriers of time and distance,” says Doug Hurley, vice president for information technology and the university’s CIO. “Wireless enables just-in-time learning and encourages innovative interactions in ways never before possible.” In addition to providing mobility for students, the Avaya wireless LAN links security video cameras across campus to provide surveillance of public areas. This feature allows security officials to monitor activity no matter where they are on campus, even from inside a patrol car. The university also will be home to the FedEx Institute of Technology, a joint collaboration among the university, FedEx and other leading corporations. The Avaya Wireless LAN solution will be part of the institute, providing communications and security support.
The Indianapolis Public Schools, Indiana’s largest school district, has partnered with Honeywell Building Solutions, Minneapolis, to improve school security through the district-wide installation of various technologies including an asset locator to provide real-time tracking and location of tagged assets and personnel; upgraded access using NexWatch; and digital video monitoring and surveillance across the network. The district has 90 buildings and 330 buses that transport students each school day. “With Honeywell’s broad portfolio of offerings, we are able to leverage our existing equipment and create opportunities for savings, efficiency and improved security,” says Richard Joest, technology and security director for Indianapolis Public Schools.
The Diocese of Orlando (Fla.) is one of many educational organizations throughout the country that has participated in school safety workshops aimed at reducing risk, which are sponsored by Alexandria, Va.-based Sonitrol, part of the Tyco Fire & Security family. Sonitrol conducted two different workshops for the diocese: one for principals and assistant principals of the organization’s 35 Catholic schools, and a second for the 900 diocesan school employees. The outcome: a safe-school committee, which drafted an emergency-management plan with a quick-reference guide for each of the classrooms within the school district. “The key to making schools safe is to reduce risk on a daily basis,” says Wolfgang Halbig, executive director at the National Institute for School and Workplace Safety.
The Lancaster (Calif.) School District uses fixed and mobile patrols to protect the seventeen schools in the district, according to Haywood Stribling.
The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut were the 2003 recipients of the Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award from Security On Campus Inc., King of Prussia, Pa. The award is based on the effective use of cutting-edge technologies, which are now available to greatly improve campus safety. Such technologies – sophisticated surveillance systems in the case of the University of Pennsylvania and a monitored personal alarm device network at the University of Bridgeport – are becoming more affordable, according to Security On Campus. The Pennsylvania institution achieved decreases in overall crime of more than 30 percent. “We wanted to honor the University of Pennsylvania for its innovative technological programs as well as its campus and community patrols,” says Howard Clery III of Security On Campus. At the University of Bridgeport, a personal-alarm device system was installed seven years ago as a solution to the problem of criminals preying upon students on the urban campus. April Vournelis, director of the Bridgeport school’s campus security, provides every student and employee with a personal alarm device that, when activated, calls the campus security department indicating the person’s exact location.