Tags: Emerging Threats | Homeland Security | Mass Shootings | department of education | dhs | tsa

Create a New Agency to Protect Our Schools

Create a New Agency to Protect Our Schools

NYPD school safety division is school security force for New York City Department of Education schools. (Mira Agron/Dreamstime)

By Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:58 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Considering last week’s events in Parkland, Florida something has to be done to better protect our children and students. I wrote a previous column about what specific policy measures could be implemented to make our schools safer, you can read it here. Now we need to consider how such policy measures can be applied — legally and logistically.

As I mentioned in my previous article, Israel already does a very good job at protecting its schools due to the constant terrorist threat they face. In Israel, any school with more than 100 students is required to have armed guards.

Their local police forces handle the security for schools starting in kindergarten all the way through college. Their Ministry of Education handles training of guards, addressing security concerns such as transportation and perimeter security. Therefore, the U.S. should consider a similar approach to protecting our school children, although the way in which this approach would be administered is a challenge. The population of Israel is approximately 8.6 million, while the population of the U.S. is approximately 323.1 million.

Clearly, applying an approach like Israel’s in the U.S. would require a mixed strategy of local agencies with federal support and oversight. In order to succeed in such an undertaking, we may want to consider creating a new agency wholly responsible for securing our nation's campuses. An agency whose only purpose is to secure our schools would allow for focus and impartiality in their duties.

One such agency that was created in the wake of a national tragedy was the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). While there are many criticisms of the TSA, it has recently made improvements that many people may not have realized. Particularly, the covert tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) exposing faults in the threat detection process.

Since then, the TSA has solved many of those faults and increased its ability to thwart threats. Advancements in throughput analysis for the speed at which security lines move has also reduced line waiting times without compromising security. If anything, a new agency meant to protect our schools, built from the ground up, could implement some of the lessons learned by the TSA.

How should this new agency be created? Well, it could take the same route the TSA did when it was created in late 2001. Sponsored by members of Congress and the Senate, and then signed into law by the commander in chief, just like the TSA was signed in under President George W. Bush. The only difference being the TSA was initially included in the United States Department of Transportation. It was later moved under the auspices of the DHS.

The new agency would likely have to be under the DHS, rather than say under the Department of Education (ED), as departments that have security responsibilities need to be managed by security entities.

Now comes the question of how we would pay for such new services. The federal aspect of the agency could be paid for through the normal funding structures funding all federal agencies. The question from there would be whether or not we would fund the local aspects of the programs through federal means. I suggest that this is not the solution in this case.

Each school district is different in a myriad of ways and would require significantly different levels of resources to fulfill their security needs. We might want to raise funds on a local basis, as grants based on student population wouldn’t translate well to each community.

The current tax structure, such as funds from the lottery and millage property taxes are likely candidates to fund the local resources, like on campus officers and updates to school layouts.

Ultimately, arguments and sentiments in the news have mostly focused on the cultural narrative of the obviously vulnerable state of our schools. Political slogans and emotional diatribes are certain at a time like this, but if we’re going to get serious about protecting our nation’s most vulnerable, our children, then it’s time to do something concrete about it.

We need to put pen to paper so we can go to work and sleep soundly at night knowing that there are people whose sole purpose is to protect our nation's campuses.

Richard S. Bernstein, CEO of Richard S. Bernstein & Associates, Inc., West Palm Beach, is an insurance advisor for high net worth business leaders, families, businesses, municipalities, and charitable organizations. An insurance advisor to many of America’s wealthiest families, he is a writer, trusted local and national media resource and expert speaker on estate planning and health insurance. Visit his website at www.rbernstein.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Political slogans and emotional diatribes are certain at a time like this, but if we’re going to get serious about protecting our nation’s children, then it’s time to do something concrete about it.
department of education, dhs, tsa
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:58 AM
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