Protecting Campuses from the Inside Out

Mitigating threats from “trusted insiders”

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.


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, say 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 community.


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 they escalate.

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.

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