In the days following the civil massacre at a country music festival outside Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay hotel, someone casually asked Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards:
“Are you guys calling all the hotels in Las Vegas?”
Jim’s answer was to the point: “No.”
Why? “That’s not the right thing to do.”
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As Jim explained, “I think it surprises people to learn that we’ve been doing this for more than three decades. There’s this sense people have that this is all opportunistic, some new industry that just popped up since Sandy Hook.”
Jim is the first to acknowledge that the industry has indeed changed in the last few years—in many ways, TSS has been on the leading edge of that evolution, bringing new technology and new standards of design, fit, finish, and service to what was a stodgy, old-line industry. But that change hasn’t been driven by chasing disasters to hard-sell “solutions.”
“Yeah, bullet resistant security for school buildings is new in the last 30 years—but so are bike helmets on every kid, taking sports injuries and concussions seriously, and the way we address bullying. I think, in a broad sense, we’re taking safety much more seriously now, addressing it in a much more systematic way. We’re less willing to shrug something off and say ‘These things happen.’ As a result, we’re seeing declines in a lot of different areas: Violent crime, bullying, vandalism, and so on. That’s progress, but it isn’t an accident; it grows out of our increased vigilance.”
But Jim is not blind to the existence of opportunists in every industry—including his.
“Someone showed me this article the other day, about the kinds of cold-calls and ‘offers’ schools get after there’s been an incident, and it made me really uncomfortable. We’ve seen a lot of this in the last few years, new so-called ‘bulletproof’ products-clipboards and chalkboards and backpacks—that won’t necessarily stop a bullet or protect anyone, even under ideal circumstances.”
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“Bulletproof glass isn’t like garlic and silver bullets; it doesn’t have magical protective properties. Just throwing ‘bulletproof’ at a building doesn’t stop any of these awful crimes. It’s one part of a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to security—an approach that makes people safer overall, regardless of what the threat or emergency is.”
School security is an excellent example of this. Prior to Sandy Hook, the last comparable event was the Bath School Disaster—in 1927, 85 years earlier.
There are roughly 90,000 elementary schools in the United States; the odds of another Sandy Hook or Bath School Disaster happening at any specific school are very low. But every single day hundreds of children are abducted by family members or other individuals known to the child. The very same security features that make a secured vestibule a good bullet resistant barrier also make it a barrier to entry for any adult who should not be having contact with any child.
“That’s the kind of security we’re always looking to foster. Thoughtful, flexible security doesn’t just stop the big, awful, rare tragedies. It also prevents the hundreds of little bad things that happen each day.”