School Security Assessment Tool Glossary

Glossary of Terms
Name Definition
Active assailant An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area
Building perimeter layer The outer boundary of a school building as well as satellite structures such as portable units and other detached buildings
Building interior layer The space inside school buildings, such as classrooms, administrative offices, common spaces, and hallways
Complementary (measures) Measures that enhance the ability of another measure to respond to a threat. For example, lighting can improve the ability of security staff to detect a threat. Lighting and security staff are complementary measures.
Communications capability Technology that allows school staff to communicate, such as cell phones or two-way radios. Communications capability may only be within the school (e.g., among staff or between staff and adminstrators) or it could connect staff directly with local emergency responders or police.
Confidence (in the context of assessing security measure performance) The SSAT asks users to assess how likely it is that a given security measure will perform as expected to detect, delay, or respond to a threat. For example, the SSAT asks users to rate their confidence that school security staff will detect a threat. SSAT users might consider many things in their assessment, such as the policies in place to guide staff behavior, staff training, lighting, visibility, whether staff have other duties that would distract from their security mission, the specific SSAT scenario, or other factors.
CPTED Crime prevention through enviornmental design. CPTED principles recommend improving security through “natural surveillance,” established via clear sightlines rather than surveillance technology or security personnel; perimeter barriers constructed from landscaping instead of fencing; and clear signage to aid building evacuation and first-responder access instead of equipment- and personnel-reliant communication or surveillance systems
Detect Identification of a security threat that is occurring or about to occur
Delay Extending the amount of time it takes for an assailant to reach their intended target either through impediments or barriers (that take time to overcome) or security responses that stop or slow the assailant
Detection measures Measures communicate that a safety-related violent threat or incident is occurring or about to occur. Examples can include monitored closed-circuit TV (CCTV), security staff patrols, or open-sight designs that allow for natural surveillance.
Delay measures These measures increase the level of effort, resources, and time necessary for violent threats or incidents to occur. Examples can include fencing, reinforced window, staff patrols, or automatic lock mechanisms.
Effectiveness (in the context of confidence judgments) The SSAT askes users to assess how likely it is that a given security measure will respond effectively to a threat. For example, the SSAT asks users to state whether school security staff will respond effectively a threat. SSAT users might consider many things in their response, such as whether staff have functional communications equipment, policies in place to guide staff behavior, staff training, whether staff have other duties that would distract from their security mission, the specific SSAT scenario, or other factors.
Evacuation policy/plan Plans describing actions to take for a rapid, orderly process for students, staff, and visitors to exit school buildings and reunite at a predetermined location a safe distance away
Functional (in the context of assessment of measures) In the SSAT, functional means that the security measure is fully implemented and working properly. For example, functional CCTV cameras would be installed properly, switched on, and feeding video that can be watched live. Fully functional lighting would be installed at regular intervals and include working lightbulbs, sensors, or switches.
Grounds perimeter layer The layer corresponding to the outermost boundary of the school campus or grounds. The grounds perimeter is the layer furthest away from school where security measures can be implemented.
Interior The inside of a school building or facility, including administrative offices, classrooms, hallways, and common spaces such as lounges, cafeteria, gym, or theatre.
Lockdown policy/plan Plans describing actions to take for securing school facilities with staff and students from threats inside the building when evacuation is impossible. Staff, students, visitors, and other members of the community shelter in place.
Lockout policy/plan Plans describing actions to take for securing school facilities from violent threats outside the building. Limited movement within the building may be possible.
Modular units School classrooms or administrative offices housed in portable, prefabricated buildings separate from the main facility but located on the school campus.
Non-custodial parent A parent who does not have physical custody of their child as the result of a court order and is therefore not authorized to pick the child up from school
Open plan interior A building interior in which there are no, or few, floor-to-ceiling walls separating classrooms
Perimeter The outer boundary of an area protected by physical security measures. The SSAT includes two different perimeters as layers in the school security system: (1) the grounds perimeter, corresponding to the outermost boundary of the school campus or grounds and the the furthest away from the school that security measures could be put in place, and (2) the building perimeter, corresponding to the outer walls (including windows and doors) of school buildings where security measures can be implemented to prevent or detect entry into the buildings.
Response Actions taken that directly address the assailiant or violent threat (e.g., interdict to halt the incident) or act to mitigate harm (e.g., treat injured after a violent incident)
Response measures These measures contribute to overcoming violent threats or incidents or limiting the damage caused by an incident. Examples can include security guards, communication and notification equipment, or first aid kits placed at various locations throughout a school building.
School grounds layer Buildings and features outside of school buildings and within the school perimeter, such as parking lots, playgrounds, outdoor walkways, or athletic facilities
School resource office (SRO) Sworn law enforcement officers responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools. These individuals are typically employed by a local police or sheriff's department and work closely with school administrators and may be physically located at the school for part or all of the school day.
School security staff Staff whose primary duties entail school security. Such staff could include school resource officers, school safety officers, other law enforcement officers, volunteers, private secuurity guards, or instructional or admininstrative staff. See School Resource Officer, School Security Officer
School security/safety officer (SSO) Non-sworn school security staff who have been trained to act as a first line of defense and respond to acts of crime and violence in schools
Security incident In the context of the SSAT, a criminal or violent acts that occurs within school boundaries--that is, at the school perimeter, on the school grounds, at the building perimeter, or inside the building. Security incidents vary and include vandalism, student fights, entry by an unauthorized parent, bomb threats, weapons in school, or active assailants.
Systems approach A systems approach requires conceptualizing school physical security as a component of the broader school safety system. When implemented, this approach also includes the elements of prevention and response and recovery. Protection and risk mitigation extend beyond physical security measures to elements of school violence prevention, such as student mental health and school climate, as well as emergency response and recovery efforts.
Tip line A mechanism that allows reporting of potential threats to the authorities, such as a website, text messaging service, or designated phone number
Urban, suburban, rural "Urban areas are densely settled and contain 50,000 or more people. Urban areas contain a major city. Suburban areas are densely settled areas within the metropolitan area of a major city but outside the city itself. Rural areas are those not designated as urban or suburban. They generally contain less than 50,000 people and are more than 5 miles from a densely populated metropolitan area."
Unauthorized entry In the SSAT, unauthorized entry means either (1) an authorized or unauthorized person gaining entry to school grounds or facilities by breaking in or (2) an unauthorized person gaining entry without breaking in due to the failure of entry control measures such as visitor databases or entering through a propped open exterior door.
Unauthorized person A person who is not authorized to have access to school grounds or facilities.
Security Measures Information
Security Measures Definition Applicable Layers
Building design features to prevent entry at unauthorized locations Measures that prevent unauthorized persons from entering the building at points that are not the main entrance. Examples include inoperable windows, bars on windows or doors. Building perimeter
Building design features to prevent gunshots or other breakage (inlcuding bullet resistant or reinforced doors, windows, walls) Measures that are part of the physical school building desinged to prevent gunshots from reaching human targets. Examples include bullet resistant film on glass, shatter proof glass, bullet resistant or reinforced doors or windows in interior spaces such as entrances to classrooms and interior windows Building perimeter
CCTV cameras Closed circuit television cameras that surveil various points at the school grounds or building perimeters or within buildings. Grounds perimeter, school grounds, building perimeter, building interior
Emergency alarms to notify LE Devices that individuals can use to send a warning signal directly to local law enforcement if a threat is deteced. Examples include duress alarms include panic buttons, badge alarms, silent alarms, and smartphone alarms. Building interior
Emergency call boxes that notify LE A permanent device, often outdoors, that enables a person in distress to directly communicate with local law enforcement School grounds, building perimeter, building interior
Emergency notification systems (e.g., public address system) A system that can simultaneously send information regarding an emergency event through multiple modes, such as a phone call, text message, smartphone app, email, or public address system LayeSchool grounds, building perimeter, building interiorrs
Entry points not monitored by staff but controlled in another way Perimeter, grounds, or building entry points that are not monitored by staff but are instead secured in another way. For example, doors or gates could be locked, or monitired by CCTV. Grounds perimeter, school grounds, building perimeter, building interior
Gunshot detection systems These systems are used to detect a gunshot, identify the gunshot’s location, and alert first responders and school staff. Some systems automatically trigger security cameras near the sensors in an effort to to capture real-time information. Building interior
Identification system for staff, students, visitors These measures are a means of identifying staff, students, visitors, and others who are authorized to be on school property and, at the same time, identifying unauthorized persons. Examples include identification badges, or a visitor database. Building perimeter
Interior barriers Barriers within the building that can be secured (e.g., hallway partitions that lock) that make it more difficult for an intruder to move freely throughout the entire building Building interior
Intrusion detection systems Systems that monitor for indicators of unauthorized activity, such as doors or windows opening, glass being broken, movement, and temperature changes and silently alert law enforcement and/or school personnel if such activity is detected. Examples include open door or window alarms, motion sensors Building perimeter, building interior
Lighting Lighting that is always on or motion-activated that illuminate the perimeter of the school and is bright enough to help detect an intruder. Grounds perimeter, school grounds, building perimeter, building interior
Locks on doors that are not entry points (includes automatic locks, locks triggered by detection systems, manual locks) Means to secure a door and control access to a space such as a building or classroom. Locks could be manually operated by a physical key, a key card or other electronic means or engaged automatically if triggered by a detection system such as a motion detector. Building perimeter, building interior
Master key access to locked doors for local law enforcement A master key provides law enforcement officers with entry to any locked door on school property. Building perimeter, building interior
Measures to slow traffic Measures to slow traffic to prevent speeding and rapid vehicle approach include speed bumps, curved driveways School grounds
Perimeter barrier that is difficult for someone to scale without being detected A barrier at the outermost boundary of a school campus or around the perimeter of an outdoor athletic facility, such as a fence around an outdoor football field. Perimeter barriers include walls, fences, or landscaping Grounds perimeter, school grounds
Physical entry control measures A physical means of preventing unauthorized persons entry to a building. Some such measures limit entry to one person at a time. Examples include vestibules that can be locked, turnstiles that can be fixed in place Building perimeter
Screening devices or systems for people and/or bags These devices are intended to detect weapons concealed on persons or in personal belongings. Examples include metal detectors or magnetic wands. Building perimeter
Signage Visible signage at the boundary of or within the school campus that, for example designates school property, directs visitors to entrance, notifies visitors of CCTV coverage, or designates evacuation routes. Grounds perimeter, school grounds, building perimeter, building interior
Single or small number of entry points in the perimeter barrier One, or a few, entry points in the permieter barrier at the outermost boundary of a school campus or around outdoor athletic facilities. Grounds perimeter, school grounds
Staff, volunteers, or law enforcement officer on patrol or at a station Staff are school employees who might be able to detect or respond to an attack. Such staff may be stationed at perimeter entrances, on patrol within the school grounds, or stationed or partrolling within the school building. By law enforcement officer we mean an SSO, SRO, or local LE officer who would be trained and equipped to detect and respond to an attack. See also SRO, SSO. Grounds perimeter, school grounds, building perimeter, building interior
Vehicle barriers Vehicle barriers prevent vehicles from driving on to sidewalks or into the school building. Examples include bollards, planters, or jersey barriers. Grounds perimeter, school grounds
Visibility to enable detection Lines of sight throughout school grounds or within school building that would enable an intruder to be detected Grounds perimeter, school grounds, building perimeter, building interior