School Safety in 2023: Three Proven Concepts That Save Lives with Realistic, Affordable, and Modern Applications

In anticipation of GSX, we sat down with presenters of upcoming sessions in order to get a better understanding of the topics at hand. This week we are featuring, “School Safety in 2023: Three Proven Concepts That Save Lives with Realistic, Affordable, and Modern Applications” presented by Greg Gerber, Director of Training at Safer Schools Together (SST) and John Callery, Vice President of Safer Schools Together (SST). Read on for what they had to say and don’t forget to register for GSX 2023

Q: How did you become interested in your topic? 

JC: While working for DEA an opportunity arose to speak at a school safety conference regarding terrorism in 2005. Shortly after that, I met Theresa Campbell from SST and decided that I needed to do more for school safety. My interactions with SST and other school safety experts showed me there was a need for my experience and I wanted to provide that as much as possible. Therefore, I conducted presentations on various topics of expertise and tried to lend my hand wherever needed to SST and the great work they do. Currently, as the Director of School Safety for Surefox North America Inc, we still collaborate on a weekly basis on issues, ideas and joint projects. 

Q: Tell us about your presentation and why should security professionals have this topic on their radar. 

JC: The presentation will provide the most realistic, proven, and attainable school safety methods available in 2023. We will discuss the need for the three required and attainable foundation pieces of school safety to build your infrastructure upon. The “good idea fairy” is too prevalent in school safety as this time, we need to examine what actually works and for the least expense for schools in these difficult budgeting years we have before us. This presentation is a step one on any road to mitigating school violence, teen suicide, and school attacks. 

Q: What advice would you give security professionals interested in this topic? 

GG: You cannot ignore the digital realm, period. Take any opportunity you have to engage with Digital Threat Assessment Training. Understanding how to find and preserve digital leakage combined with a heightened awareness of what to look for transforms your ability to intercept someone on the pathway to violence. Intervention is the best goal and pathway to safer schools and communities. 

Q: How do you see this issue evolving in the next 2-5 years 

GG: I think that we’ll see two major shifts. 1) a proliferation of social media platforms and their respective usage patterns. 2) the infiltration of AI within and across social media.  Communities and safety teams will need to adapt to the digital environment, remain abreast of emergent technologies, and find ways to harness AI tools advantageously.