Lake Oswego School District commissions safety and security audit
The Lake Oswego School Board commissioned a report from True North Consultants regarding securities services at district facilities, and at the July 15 school board meeting representatives from True North presented their findings, suggestions and national trends related to vulnerabilities of school buildings from a security perspective.
"You are very proactive and you're taking security seriously," True North Executive Security Consultant Michael Rozin told the board. Rozin said that the LOSD has already put into place many of the security measures they suggest, calling the district's recent improvements "unprecedented."
These improvements include the installation of safety vestibules which control traffic in and out of school buildings and the implementation of a digital visitor management system called Raptor.
Rozin explained that there is no perfect solution when it comes to security of a public institution. "The strategy is to identify the most critical risk and invest your money there," he said. Rozin and True North Chief Operating Officer Tony Chonkowski did walk-throughs of district schools and interviewed principals and staff members to help them identify possible risks. They also reviewed district policies and interviewed personnel at the district level.
They also identified what the most critical assets are on school grounds. "What are those critical assets in each in every school, what are we protecting them against?" Rozin said. "The center of it all is the human factor."
Rozin explained that there are three different types of potential motivations for threat actors: idiosyncratic, criminal and ideological. Idiosyncratic threats include workplace violence, domestic violence, disgruntled students and incidents due to mental health factors. Criminal threats include violent crimes and property crimes. Ideological threats include "homegrown violent extremists" and actors motivated by hate and/or bias.
"Idiosyncratic acts can be motivated by a range of personal factors and triggering events, including serious mental illness and emotional instability," Rozin said. "We've seen an unprecedented spike in the frequency of those incidences."
Rozin said that although Lake Oswego is a very safe place from a crime standpoint, there is no direct correlation between the level of crime and idiosyncratic acts. "The majority of the threat actors actually come from within the school," Rozin said. "We have seen that statistically over the years."
However, the LOSD has implemented security measures on its own accord, and quickly acted on True North's recommendations. "Some of the (recommendations) were already acted on, which is absolutely incredible," Rozin said. "What was lacking was a district security department. You've already implemented this recommendation, even before this meeting."
In May the LOSD appointed former Lakeridge Assistant Principal John Parke to the new position of safety and security administrator. Parke is responsible for safety and security initiatives across the entire district, including establishing and enforcing safety and security policies and training, completing accident prevention efforts, supporting risk management efforts and playing a critical role in emergency management for the district.
True North's audit also recommended enhanced training, deployment and utilization of security resources, including School Resource Officers (SROs). Thanks to the 2019 Learning Levy, the LOSD was able to hire a second SRO, LO Police Officer James Euscher, who will be on campuses in the fall.
Rozin also suggested that the district put further focus on an emergency preparedness program and develop an enhanced incident, suspicious activity and community reporting system. He also suggested using "strategic physical hardening" or strengthening the exterior of the building to help stop threats, as well as improving building surveillance.
Board chair Rob Wagner thanked Rozin and True North for their work because of the necessity of student safety at school. "We know that if children go to school hungry or with housing insecurity or without health...they have a really hard time learning," Wagner said. "The anxiety around safety is the same thing."
Wagner also thanked citizens who voted for levy, "because that goes directly into the safety as our students."
Rozin also suggested implementing a behavior threat assessment program to help prevent potential violent acts. Student school board representative Eli Counce told the board that while behavior threat assessment program is necessary, it's not always a perfect solution. "In my research of active shooter situations in the past, a lot of worrying social media posts and interactions with peers were reported to behavior threat assessment, but there were never followed through on," Counce said. "After we identify someone who we think may be a threat, there needs to
be steps of action after that."
Rozin said Counce was absolutely right. If information is received in a silo, it is limiting. "Many programs we work with stop short of having a deliberate plan for what happens next," he said.
"One of the important things is not only having the threat assessment process, but having the technology and tools that allow your community at large, students and parents, to report suspicious activity in one centralized place that can not only catalogue it, but trend it in real time."
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