Texas School Safety & Security (TSSSC) Preliminary Best Practices

The following are consolidated Best Practice recommendations endorsed by the Texas School Safety and Security Council (TSSSC). The TSSSC is comprised of more 30+ Texas school district Chiefs of Police and associated public law enforcement agencies and first responders. School safety and security practices are inherently an evolving continuum. These recommendations will be updated periodically to reflect the rapidly changing nature of policy, practice and implementation for school safety.



 As of Nov. 8, 2018


1. Law enforcement officer(s) on site daily based on average of 1 officer, or more, per 1,000 students on most campuses. Consider all forms of Law Enforcement Partnership (embedded ISD PD, contracted SRO’s, interlocal agreements/ MOU’s for service).

2. High definition 360 degree digital cameras with 24 hour recording at all entries, major corridors and exterior of campus with video storage On and Off site for minimum of 6 months; compatible with after-hours burglar/fire alarm system. Cameras should be located in parking lots and mounted on light poles and pointed at the building to record who enters and leaves the school.

3. Front entry door video camera/intercom for granting access into secure vestibule.

4. At “primary” entries, provide secure vestibules capable of resisting an unauthorized intruder until access is granted or until law enforcement/security arrives. Consider providing 1-2 primary/secure vestibule entrances at Elementary Schools, 2-3 primary/secure vestibule entrances at Middle or Junior High Schools, and 4-6 primary/secure vestibule entrances at High Schools.

5. Ballistic/impact resistant film installed at main entries, at exterior glass adjacent main entries, and on all glass inside the secure vestibule. Consider for all interior classroom window systems.

6. Access control/proximity card reader access for exterior/designated doors (may include student ID cards if provided by district/campus and coded for school days/school hours only).

7. Administrative/Faculty accessible “lock-down/panic” buttons (enclosed in plastic case) with unique alert tone to not be confused with fire alarm alert.

8. Reinforced secure door hardware on classrooms with a specified number of hardened “Safe Rooms” identified and strategically located to be used during a crisis (equipped with digital radio, phone, and barricade ability during an active shooter incident).

9. Provide integrated and interoperable communication systems using multiple technologies. This should include integration solutions that effectively share radio, voice, video & data; mass-communication/notifications systems; and hand-held digital radio systems for internal campus use.

10. Provide strategically located, solar powered exterior Emergency Call Stations with automated 24×7 alert capabilities to Police/Fire (first responders). Call stations should be located at after-hours entry points, parking lots, athletic fields and portable classrooms. Cameras should be provided at call stations and angled to record anyone who uses the call station. Elementary schools should have a call station at the playground, Middle Schools should have 2-3 call stations, and High Schools should have at least 5 call stations.

11. Provide continuous perimeter site fencing consisting of 8’ tall vertical slat wrought-iron fencing (except visitor/staff and student parking areas). Perimeter fencing should be implemented and adjusted according to the environment and community around the school.

12. Provide “indicator style” locks with classroom security function (lockable from the inside) at all classrooms.

13. Create a comprehensive and integrated Emergency Operations Plan and Administrative Practices Manual.

14. Provide Training and Drills to make necessary reactions more immediate.

15. Use clear backpacks only and consider implementing bullet resistant inserts.

16. Use software that monitors student social media activity for keywords.

17. Natural Surveillance (CPTED)

a. Design drives to increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic and use passing vehicular traffic as a surveillance asset.
b. Place windows overlooking sidewalks and parking lots and leave window shades open.
c. Create landscape designs that provide surveillance, especially in proximity to designated points of entry and opportunistic points of entry. Curved streets can provide multiple view points as well as make the escape route difficult to follow.
d. Use the least sight-limiting fence appropriate for the situation.
e. Use transparent weather vestibules at building entrances.
f. When creating lighting design, avoid poorly placed lights that create blind- spots for potential observers and miss critical areas. Ensure potential problem areas are well lit: pathways, stairs, entrances/exits, parking areas, ATMs, phone kiosks, mailboxes, bus stops, children’s play areas, recreation areas, pools, laundry rooms, storage areas, dumpster and recycling areas, etc.
g. Avoid too-bright security lighting that creates blinding glare and/or deep shadows, hindering the view for potential observers. Eyes adapt to night lighting and have trouble adjusting to severe lighting disparities. Using lower intensity lights often requires more fixtures.
h. Place lighting along pathways and other pedestrian-use areas at proper heights for lighting the faces of the people in the space (and to identify the faces of potential attackers).
i. Natural surveillance measures can be complemented by mechanical and organizational measures. For example, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras can be added in areas where window surveillance is unavailable.

18. Natural Access Control (CPTED)
a. Use a single, clearly identifiable, point of entry for vision.
b. Incorporate maze entrance in public restrooms.
c. Use structures to divert persons to reception areas.
d. Use low, thorny bushes beneath ground level windows. Use rambling or climbing thorny plants next to fences to discourage intrusion.
e. Eliminate design features that provide access to roofs or upper levels.
f. Use a locking gate between front and back entrances.
19. Territorial Reinforcement (CPTED)
a. Maintain premises and landscaping such that it communicates an alert and active presence occupying the space.
b. Provide trees; research results indicate that, contrary to traditional views within the law enforcement community, outdoor residential spaces with more trees are seen as significantly more attractive, safer, and more likely to be used than similar spaces without trees.
c. Restrict private activities to defined private areas.
d. Display security system signage at access points.
e. Avoid chain link fencing and razor-wire fence topping, as it communicates the absence of a physical presence and a reduced risk of being detected.
f. Scheduling activities in common areas increases proper use, attracts more people and increases the perception that these areas are controlled.
g. Provide motion sensor lights at all entry points.
h. Territorial reinforcement measures make the normal user feel safe and make the potential offender aware of a substantial risk of apprehension or scrutiny.
20. Maintenance and Management (CPTED)
a. Maintenance is an expression of ownership of property. Deterioration indicates less control by the intended users of a site and indicate a greater tolerance of disorder. Having a positive image in the community shows a sense of pride and self-worth that no one can take away from the owner of the property.
b. Activity support increases the use of a built environment for safe activities with the intent of increasing the risk of detection of criminal and undesirable activities. Natural surveillance by the intended users is casual and there is no specific plan for people to watch out for criminal activity. By placing signs such as caution children playing and signs for certain activities in the area, the citizens of that area will be more involved in what is happening around them.

21. Provide Sensing Technology at secure vestibules. Sensing technology can include metal detectors, weapons detection systems, and gunshot detection systems. Sensing technology is a helpful security tool and should be manned by vetted personnel when the school is open/in session and for any before-school and/or after-school activities. All primary/secure vestibule entrances that are open throughout the day, should have sensing technology and be staffed appropriately.

22. Evaluate applicability of IBC/IFC 1008.1.4.4 Access Controlled Egress Doors with the Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (Fire Marshal). If allowed by the Fire Marshal, doors would be labeled as ‘Emergency Exit’ doors so that they can remain locked during the day and be alarmed for egress purpose while maintaining compliance with IBC/IFC regulation 1008.1.4.4.

23. Exterior doors allowing school access should be labeled alphanumerically to identify both the specific door and the side of the school on which they are located. Identify/designate campus access drives similarly.

24. Provide a “Community”/Conference Room adjacent vestibule for temporary holding and evaluation, of agitated or disruptive individuals or perceived human threats. Access should be limited to/from the secure vestibule only.
25. Provide a Secure Command/Control Room in administrative suite with direct exterior access for first responders.

26. Create a plan to secure portable classrooms; treat as an extension of the permanent facility. Pre-plan site locations, fence portable classroom compound, control access to portable compound, and embed all associated communication/ notification and emergency functions. Consider hardened wall systems and Safe Rooms within portable compound.