Q&A with a School Safety Expert

by | Jul 2, 2021 | Ask Gary, Gary's Blog, Q&A with Gary

This is the second part of a series of questions asked by School Administrators, Teachers, and School Resource Officers.  Their questions will be answered by Gary L. Sigrist, Jr., President and CEO of Safeguard Risk Solutions.  Gary is a nationally known speaker, consultant, author and expert on emergency preparedness.  His career spans more than 30 years as an educator, administrator and police officer.  Gary’s background in both education and law enforcement gives him a unique perspective on safety and preparedness, which he brings to his work with clients of Safeguard Risk Solutions.

 

Is there any training you would recommend to learn more about identifying safety concerns? 

Be sure to subscribe to Campus Safety Magazine. I constantly use the search feature on their website when doing research.  The REMS TA Center offers free training. I am a huge fan of the Texas State University School Safety Center.  If there is not a network for you to join in your area, start your own.  I learned the most from colleagues I met with on a regular basis or I could call if I needed to bounce an idea off someone.  I miss face to face training, but the pandemic has shown us we can still get great information during webinars and virtual conferences.  The one thing that can never be replaced from a face-to-face conference is learning from the person sitting beside you who is in the same position as you and who faces the same issues.


Are there student rights support for minors when parents are unengaged/uninvolved or is that student left to the administration/staff to decide the outcome?

In Ohio, we have specific rules on interviewing suspects, including minors. Schools should not allow for an interview with a student and Law Enforcement for a delinquent act committed outside of the school unless a parent is present. If the parent is not able to be present, a representative from the school should be with the student during the interview.


Is there anything that you would keep as zero-tolerance, or do you prefer to eliminate that stigma completely?

When I think of examples where there should be zero-tolerance, I think of actions like bringing a weapon to school to cause harm and assaults. But even in those cases the focus should be on helping the child.  Those who work on a TAT know we sometimes must remove a child from school because of safety concerns.  But the goal, if possible, is to re-engage the child in a school setting.  This is where our counselors and social workers play a vital role.


Do you have any recommendations on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) training or resources with limited budgets?

See if there are any colleagues that work for a neighboring school or college who has the expertise. You can always check with your county or state EMA, but I always had to pay for my own training.  I hated having to spend the money, but it was worth the time and the money.


I am a former Police Officer and saw the need for SRO’S not long after the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs ended, there was no plan as to how to extend or bridge the to the two roles. Does the D.A.R.E. program still have a role or need still today in our schools? Maybe a comeback?

In my early teaching days, we had D.A.R.E. in our eighth-grade health classes. I was never fan of the D.A.R.E curriculum and there has yet to be a study showing the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. However, the real benefit of D.A.R.E. was that the officers were able to start building relationships with students at an early age.  I have seen agencies that had to cut D.A.R.E. due to budget restrictions and manpower shortages use patrol officers assigned to a school who make regular visits to the school to build relationships.

Submit your question about safety or emergency preparedness to Gary

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