My Turn: A Partnership of Practicality and Innovations
Guy Grace, Littleton Public Schools (Colo.) manager, security and emergency planning, works closely with Scott Murphy, superintendent of schools, and they view their shared mission and evaluate policies, procedures and technology innovations.
How do you work with your CEO or other top management?
The most critical area is that of communication and keeping the superintendent and the leadership staff informed about security and emergency planning; this happens 24/7.
The superintendent and leadership staff would expect no less of the security team. This puts me as security manager in a unique role with a wide variety of duties. For example, during the daytime I assist the schools with issues ranging from preparing incident reports to programming security cameras to coordinating and assisting a response during an emergency. At the end of a typical school day, security has addressed 12 incidents, at least half of which required communication to the leadership team.
The position requires that I be available to respond 24/7. For example, I always respond when there is a crime in progress on school grounds and or when a serious crime such as vandalism has taken place. Most vandalism to school property takes place after hours. In addition, sometimes our students become involved in situations off campus. For example, we have had children who have run away from home. As a result, our local police departments include the school district in the investigation because we can respond 24/7 and can provide key information that insures the safety of the student. It goes without saying that the superintendent and the leadership team want to be informed about what is going on when these incidents occur. When a school is burglarized at 1:30 am, both security and the police respond and the superintendent is fully briefed about the situation, as is the school principal. Sometimes these incidents result in property damage that must be cleaned up immediately after the investigation. The goal is for the staff and students to come to school and not even know a crime has been committed.
The superintendent also relies on my briefings so that he may alert Board of Education members about the incident and possibly address the concerns of a parent who saw the police cars around the school. He also takes a proactive approach and will contact me when he is concerned about a security matter. For example, he was concerned about the buildings over the 4th of July weekend. He contacted me on a Sunday afternoon; all he wanted to know was that we had implemented security precautions such as extra patrols. I know he knew that I had implemented extra precautions, but his call showed that he cared and that his mindset was in tune with what we are doing in the security office.
How do you work with your top security executive?
Scott Murphy, Superintendent:
Guy Grace is incredible at what he does. And, because of this, we rely on him a great deal. Superintendents don’t like surprises. One of the things I value so much is the way Guy is able to give me daily briefings of the state of security throughout the district. He keeps me informed of incidents that students, parents and neighbors may have questions about, which helps me be prepared to answer those questions. He makes sure I don’t have surprises.
He is the center of the security command and control structure. He responds quickly and appropriately. Guy also has great relationships with local law enforcement. They work together frequently and regularly. Guy chairs our local interdisciplinary emergency planning team, on which many local law enforcement, health and emergency responders sit.
Guy is also a great strategist. We ask him to help us brainstorm issues that affect safety and security—to ask a lot of “What if…” questions so that we can be proactive as much as possible.
Guy also helps us communicate to our community effectively in times of crisis. He has a clear understanding of the issues, and he understands the role our director of communications must serve with the media in terms of representing the district in times of crisis. They have a great working relationship, and Guy is able to create a positive environment for her to communicate from, whether it is on or off school property, or from a law enforcement command center.