4 min read

How to Evaluate Your School’s Security Provider

school-security-joffe-emergency-services-campus-safety-officers-photo_croppedIf your school has hired a contract company to provide campus security services, you likely asked yourself an important question when making your decision: “which provider is the best fit for our unique needs?” This question is critical to ask in the vetting process, but it’s also an important one to consider regularly as you work with your provider to keep your campus safe and secure. To evaluate your school’s current security services provider, it’s important to consider three things:

  • Is our service provider aligned with our school’s culture and vision for security?
  • Are the services they are providing meeting our campus safety needs?
  • Are they acting in a way that enhances our school community?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, it may be time to consider a change. Here’s more detail on what you can look for in each of these categories.

Is our service provider aligned with our school’s culture and vision for security? 

Whether you’re seeking a provider who takes a more strict, formal approach to security, or one that reinforces your community’s use of restorative practices, it’s important to have officers that reflect and integrate with your campus culture. If the approach and expectation for security officers has caused any friction with your provider in the past, and they have been unwilling or unable to change their practices, it may be time to consider a switch. 

A few factors that often cause tension are: 

  • How officers are uniformed
  • Using vocabulary or terminology that does not match the school’s preferences
  • Whether your provider uses trauma-informed practices
  • How communication is handled
  • How miscommunication and/or misunderstands are resolved

Are the services they are providing meeting our campus safety needs? 

If you feel confident that your security officers are well trained, highly competent, and know what to do to keep students and staff safe in an emergency situation, then your answer to this question is probably yes. But if you have any hesitation about their training, responsiveness, knowledge or skills, then this is important to surface. If your provider is receptive to this feedback and can work with you to upskill your security team, then it may be worth giving them a chance to improve. However, if you don’t feel your provider is able or willing to do this, then it’s time to consider a change. 

Additionally, it’s important for your security provider to be an active part of your campus community. A direct contact and line of communication with your provider should allow for regular meetings to discuss updates, upcoming security plans, and the general state of security for your campus. This representative should also be available to attend staff meetings, event planning, and meetings with parent councils and other organizations regarding the operation of your school, if your school desires. This level of engagement helps security providers get a better, more personal view of how your unique campus operates and helps them to create and execute a more specialized security plan that is tailored to your community’s needs. 

Are they acting in a way that enhances our school community? 

The purpose of a school security provider is to ensure that your community both feels and is safe while on campus or performing school-related activities. Your provider should be having positive interactions with the students and staff on campus. They should also be offering your school community opportunities to improve their safety and security through services such as emergency preparedness training for teachers and administrative staff, regular updates of drilling schedules, and other educational opportunities to lead the community toward a safer atmosphere on and off campus. If your security provider is not doing these things, you may want to find one that is. 

If there are ever any instances that arise that make your community unsafe, that’s a good indication that it’s time to change your provider. For example, if you are faced with any complaints about the behavior of your school security team, or notice behavior that is concerning in interactions with students or staff, this is something to bring up immediately with your provider. 

The bottom line is that if at any point, your provider is making students or staff feel uncomfortable or unsafe, it is time to immediately find a replacement service.

How to switch security providers

Once you have determined that you need to switch security providers, you’ll want to move between services as seamlessly as possible. This means coming into it with a plan. 

First, research alternative providers. Work with your administration to create a list of essential qualities to look for, and curate a list of providers who you believe possess those qualities. You may even want to reach out to your potential list and ask for more details including quotes for their services.

Next, meet with your current provider. Lay out in clear language what the issues are that have prompted your decision to switch. Consider any offers they make to resolve these issues, but be warned that not all of those offers will be sincere attempts to improve their services. If you cannot reach an agreement regarding resolutions, then hold firm to the fact that you're changing providers.

Finally, be careful to examine your existing contract and honor any pre-existing obligations you might have. This might be allowing the contract to expire naturally, ceasing collaboration after the completion of current works in progress (such as safety audits or events), or, in the case of more urgent cases, finding an agreeable way to dissolve the contract immediately. Look for in-built resolution measures and ensure that you have completed your end of the contract before entering into a new contract with your new provider. 

Ready to switch? Joffe can help!

Looking for a responsive, responsible school security provider? Joffe would love to help! 

Joffe works with a dedicated team of trained security and emergency service professionals who would be happy to meet with you to discuss a personalized, community-centered approach to school safety. Our campus safety officers use trauma-informed, restorative processes to both react to emergencies appropriately and prevent serious threats to school safety long before they arise. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our school safety options, you can contact us here.

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