With the latest school shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit, school shootings have hit a record high this year. As the nation continues to review this tragic incident and find ways to improve school security the role of security guards is an issue that must be addressed.
Security guards play an important role in the security and safety program of schools across the nation. Unfortunately, school districts are having difficulty staffing their security teams due to the current labor shortage.
This article will give you a quick summary of how the current labor shortage is fueling the shortage of security guards in schools as well as:
- How the security guard shortage is impacting schools.
- Role of security guards in schools.
- Solutions to address the security guard shortage.
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Security guard shortage impacting schools
Businesses are struggling to fill open positions as more Americans choose to leave traditional labor markets, and the security guard service industry is no different.
The Detroit public schools community district is a prime example of how the shortage of qualified security guards impacts school safety and security across America.
Most high schools had two to three security guards before the pandemic. The pandemic partly worsened the deficit when the district required fewer security officers due to fewer students in the buildings. However, as most students and teachers return to in-person instruction, the Detroit school district is experiencing the same labor challenges as the commercial sector.
Role of security guards in schools
School security guards are often assigned various activities during a regular day. The tasks vary, and each institution has its own set of regulations, but in a nutshell, a security guard’s responsibilities include two key functions:
- Access control-Monitoring who comes in and out of the school. This includes patrolling the interior and the perimeter of the school property.
- Proactive security-Responding to critical situations and assisting in the event of an emergency.
Security guards vs Security Resource Officer
School security guards should not be confused with Security Resource Officers (SROs). School security guards usually are unarmed and have completed a security guard training program before being hired.
An SRO is a trained and sworn police officer stationed on campus. Because they are a part of the local police force, they will usually be dressed in uniform and carry firearms. This option ensures the presence of someone who is directly connected to the police department on-site in the event of an emergency, which gives a high level of protection.
Solutions to address the security guard shortage
The truth is that there are no quick fixes to the current labor shortage. Additionally, the labor shortage is not limited to security.
Across the country, there is a nationwide shortage of school staff at all levels – teachers, administrators, food workers, custodial staff, bus drivers, and more – are forcing schools to implement creative solutions and rethink how they can adapt to this new reality.
The three main factors to hiring and retaining qualified security guards are:
Better pay: The starting salary for a security guard at Phoneix Union High School, for example, is $14-15 an hour. That’s less than what most retail employees make.
Better training: Many schools simply assume that a security guard is well trained but forget to consider that each school is unique and requires specific training and awareness.
Better Integration: Often, security guards report working long hours and not feeling fully integrated into the school’s organization.
As schools continue to review their security programs, they will enormously improve the quality and morale of their security guards by proactively addressing the pay, training, and integration of their security guards because effective security requires a collective effort.