Build a culture of security
As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Taylor County learned this lesson the hard way last month when a burglar used an employee’s electronic fob and keys to enter the district attorney’s office and steal case files. The individual also accessed the courthouse roof where, in a costly prank, he changed the time on the clock tower damaging the mechanism.
The weak link that allowed the intruder to access the building was the employee not immediately reporting the missing electronic fob. Had this been done, it would have taken just a few keystrokes to disable the fob, rendering it useless.
Taylor County got lucky this time. The paper case files are all backed up electronically and the damage to the clock mechanism was able to be repaired. The potential damage the individual could have done is staggering to imagine both in cost and in the potential for bodily harm to unsuspecting courthouse employees. It will take a long time to recover a sense of security for those whose jobs require them to work in the courthouse after hours.
Like the county, area school districts have also made significant investment in improving the security of their campuses and buildings. Locked schoolhouse doors only work when they are not propped open.
The general public tends to think of security in the sense of security theater — measures that make us feel safer without actually improving security. These include things such as TSA checkpoints at airports or having to be buzzed into school buildings. In the case of the TSA, tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security in 2017 showed that the TSA screeners failed to detect weapons, drugs, and explosives nearly 80% of the time.
Security theater has a role in making our public places and schools safer, but more importantly, there needs to be an ingrained culture of security within organizations. A culture of security begins with instilling in all employees that security is everyone’s responsibility and not just a single person’s job. It is creating the awareness that people must be aware of their surroundings and have mechanisms in place to quickly and easily report potential threats. It is also fostering a sense of responsibility in individuals so there is no delay in reporting a missing set of keys or that the idea of propping open a door is not even considered.
To be effective, security must be more than locked doors, cameras and tempered glass. It is a culture where looking out for potential risks is as automatic as turning off the lights when you leave a room.
Security systems all come down to individuals. Schools, governments and organizations must work to reinforce these potentially weak links and make them stronger.