By Tom Foley
Assistant Professor of Global Security and Intelligence 

Faculty from the College of Security and Intelligence (CSI), in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the College of Engineering (COE), are currently performing research to answer a big question: How do we improve security at K-12 schools?

The research is being funded through a $769,000 National Institute of Justice grant awarded to Embry-Riddle last fall and is led by Principal Investigator Professor Tom Foley.

The ultimate goal of the research is the creation of a security buying guide that will help school administrators and principals choose the most cost effective technologies to improve security in their schools.

The CSI is working with the COE to test various door and window barrier technologies and determine how long each technology will delay an intruder.

The researchers will test each product against 9mm, .357, 5.56 x 45 mm, and 12-gauge shotgun ammunition as well as a brute force attack.

The data gathered will help determine the best door and window materials for use in primary and secondary schools.

Often, especially in rural and smaller school districts, school principals or district administrators make the security purchasing decisions, but they have little to no physical security design training and rely on information provided to them by salespeople.

By creating a security buyers guide, the initiative will be able to provide school administrators with unbiased, independent information on the effectiveness of various security technologies.

This should lead to more cost-effective and informed security purchasing decisions that will, in turn, allow cash-strapped schools to make the most valuable use of limited security funds.

As part of this research, experts from the CSI will conduct onsite security surveys of schools throughout Arizona to determine which security technologies are currently being used in schools, the condition of those technologies, and how they are being deployed.

These surveys will create a database of security technologies in use by schools and the condition of those devices for use by policy makers and in future research.

Researchers from the CAS will survey teachers, students, and parents to gather data on how those stakeholders view security in their schools and their perceptions of what additional security is needed.

This data will be compared to the results of the onsite security surveys (which will be performed by board certified security professionals) to learn if there is a disconnect between those stakeholder groups and trained security experts.

This knowledge may be helpful in developing future training programs for parents, students, and teachers.

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