How the Village Christian School Solved Campus Safety Risk
Highly effective and cost-efficient remote guarding service secures a leading Los Angeles school campus
- By Mark McCourt
- September 15, 2022
Reaching the right balance for campus safety requires the deft mix of addressing parental concerns, letting kids be kids, and protecting people and property through surveillance, information and fast response. Both have to be affordable and available 24/7/365.
This was the challenge for the Village Christian School’s Head of School, Tom Konjoyan. His responsibilities include campus security and life safety for over 1,100 students from K–12 and seventeen buildings nestled in the 25-acre Sun Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif.
“School safety is paramount, and in the last decade, it has become more and more important to our parents. So, the safety of our students and our teachers is our number-one priority,” said Konjoyan. Finding a risk management and security partner that ensured peace of mind with around-the-clock security seemed impossible. Their security program’s goals included eliminating theft and managing both trespassing and unregistered guests. The school also required reliable video evidence for lower-priority issues such as a lost backpack or identifying two students who had a fight.
With more than 30 years of leadership working with non-profit organizations including schools and relief and development organizations, Konjoyan brings a wealth of expertise and experience to his leadership role. He was named Head of School at Village Christian in 2010. “I have seen what other schools and organizations do to secure their campuses,” he said, “and I think they are all frustrated with their guard systems because they all have challenges with finding employees. So, a technology-based program with trained people makes a ton of sense.”
Regular reviews resulted in ongoing disappointment with the cost and uneven performance of manned guard programs. That led Village Christian to review other options, including remote guarding companies. Comfortable with the idea of not having a physical presence on campus, the school selected Elite Interactive Solutions as their new partner.
Elite’s remote guarding program brings advanced technology together with skilled security professionals located in its security operations center. The company also collaborates closely with local police departments to ensure immediate response to verified events.
“For schools like ours, the decision comes down to two questions: Are we going to hire people to watch our campus during the day, at night and on weekends? Or, are we going to use technology?” said Konjoyan. “For us, technology was a much better way with Elite to have our campus security 24 hours a day and 7 days a week at a much lower cost.”
Of course, security program expertise and onsite planning are critical for a successful outcome. The Village Christian School and Elite held an in-depth review to develop an effective and efficient program. Elite’s site development team visited the campus and completed a thorough assessment of the school’s current security program. The customized campus security design included studying student traffic flow, vehicles, access points, and response and remediation measures to ensure full security coverage. In addition to identifying the types of technology required, Elite specified the exact brands and models of equipment that would work best.
Intelligent security device sensors including cameras, motion detectors and access control systems constantly collect data, identify anomalies and analyze potential security events. The Elite Operations Center team manages incidents in a variety of ways, from engaging people through two-way audio/video communications to contacting designated school officials or notifying the local police dispatch center.
Indeed, Elite’s expertise and solutions went even further. Among the issues Village Christian School faced was a lack of police response. Konjoyan explained, “We are not near a police station. We have at times, over the years, struggled to get the police to come out and respond to an issue in a timely manner. But what we have noticed is that when Elite calls the police, they come.”
This is the result of Elite’s direct work with local police departments in the towns in which they have customers. Elite crafted its Law Enforcement Advisory Board to partner with local law enforcement agencies to eliminate or reduce crime by supplying dispatch centers with verified alerts that eliminate false alarms and help officers diffuse emergencies.
How has it worked? The results have been well-received by the Village Christian School community. The feeling is that the school received an excellent security program with great technology and equipment. Elite also presented a financing program that fit within the school’s budget. The Village Christian School and Elite continue to improve the security posture on a regular basis with analysis and innovations.
“I would recommend Elite to any school or any organization,” said Konjoyan. “Elite has been fantastic to work with.”
This article originally appeared in the September / October 2022 issue of Campus Security Today.
Mark McCourt is a well-known writer, speaker and consultant in the security industry and best-selling author of the book, Snow Day: Lessons in Leadership and Resilience from Crisis & Mass Casualty Events.