Protecting Campuses from the Inside Out
Mitigating threats from “trusted insiders”
- By Rodnie Williams
- October 01, 2018
At a time when violent events have been woven into the
fabric of our memories and lives, we often find ourselves
wondering, “What can we do? What should we
do?” The debate arises again and again on how best to
identify threats and prevent incidents before they
occur, but while security measures like access control and video cameras
have become standard, schools may lack a more comprehensive,
risk-based security plan to adequately protect campus communities.
Naturally, a comprehensive campus security plan involves the installation
of physical security equipment and personnel, like video cameras
and police or security officers, but those measures may not entirely
address the shortcomings that come with fully safeguarding our
campuses. It is this shortcoming that led Omnigo to adapt the “inside
out” approach to campus security. Without this approach, schools are
especially vulnerable to threats and crimes carried out by an oftenignored
potentially dangerous group of people: trusted insiders.
Many of today’s incidents, including cyberattacks and violent
intruders, are devised by those with trusted access to school campuses,
networks, and facilities. Insider threats exist at all levels of school and
campus administration, and can come from a student, employee, former
employee or student, contractor, associate, or any other individual
within an organization who has direct access to and knowledge of
people, facilities, critical data, and IT systems.
Access to and misuse of these resources poses a significant threat to
both the campus and its people. When campuses calibrate their security
programs around the people and information they’re trying to
protect, administrators can better establish an effective security plan.
Countermeasures like prevention training, background investigations
for employees and third-party contractors, anonymous reporting, and
behavioral intervention/threat assessment teams are key pieces to
intervention, detection, and prevention.
The following countermeasures are key to enhancing prevention,
intervention, and detection, and thus create a comprehensive security
plan for schools to rely on.
COMMUNITY EDUCATION AND PREVENTION
When students and teachers are actively engaged in the safety and
protection of themselves and their campus, threats can be more easily
identified far earlier in the incident lifecycle. Campus administrators
should implement steps to help people take responsibility for themselves
and the community they live in, employing the successful
Department of Homeland Security approach, “If you see something,
By adapting comprehensive training and microlearning solutions to
equip students and employees with the tools they need to make educated
decisions and identify warning signs, these campaigns will help
raise community awareness of what a real threat looks like, what is
doesn’t look like, and how to respond as a member of that community.
Instead of one time “acute” training, a microlearning approach provides
a more frequent and effective way for these individuals to engage
with the training material, allowing for better retention and a more
informed and prepared population.
A crucial piece of the inside out tactic includes the implementation of
anonymous reporting. In addition to protecting a campus’ perimeter
with ID badge readers and security cameras, anonymous reporting
adds another layer to a school’s comprehensive security plan. By implementing
reporting on an anonymous level, concerned members of the
community and witnesses can feel more at ease when reporting an
incident and will be more likely to do so knowing their identity is
protected. To avoid confusion around how and when individuals
should anonymously report a concern or suspicious incident, communication
campaigns and learning opportunities should be offered to
students and employees on campus.
This tactic enables anonymous reports to be sent directly to police
and security professionals who then evaluate each report on a case-bycase
basis. By integrating new technologies into comprehensive security
plans, campuses can offer services like anonymous reporting
through easy-to-use apps or websites—encouraging students and
teachers alike to utilize these resources to protect themselves and their
BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION AND
THREAT ASSESSMENT TEAMS
Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment teams are expertly
trained to identify and assess any potential threats—including acts of
violence or cases of mental health—and to address the threats before
These teams are critical to any security response plan, and by regularly
monitoring the many moving parts on a campus, they are able to
identify risks posed by those intent on doing harm to themselves or
others. Campuses must clearly evaluate the risks posed by various
types of threats, then prioritize the risks and continuously assess and
enhance their security posture and intervention strategies.
Through the inside out approach, campuses can equip themselves
with the tools to more effectively identify potential threats and intervene
earlier in the incident cycle before a situation escalates into a
full-scale emergency. The more steps we take to install better prevention
and early intervention protocols, the more effective we can be at
maintaining a safe and secure campus environment.
Across the country, many people have become numb to violent
attacks, and seem to accept that these incidents are the “new normal.”
With effective and secure precautions in place, and a more open dialogue
on how to prevent tragedy instead of reacting to it, we can take
steps to adapt a proactive, “inside out” approach to protecting our
students, teachers, staff, and campus community as a whole.
A truly comprehensive security plan allows
campus administrators to work alongside their
community members to combat threats of violence
and ensure safer tomorrows.
This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.