Magazine article National Defense

Russian Horror Highlights U.S. School Security

Magazine article National Defense

Russian Horror Highlights U.S. School Security

Article excerpt

In the wake of the deadly hostage taking in Beslan, Russia, many U.S. officials are reexamining school security precautions and providing direction to worried school officials and parents.

The Education Department has issued the newest version of its "Practical Guide on Crisis Planning." In it, officials suggest crafting detailed crisis response plans to account for students, assign staff, collect information about facilities and purchase equipment needed to mitigate or respond to a dangerous incident.

A similar guide published by the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 issued recommendations for schools and universities specifically in response to terrorism threats. Among the suggestions were establishing working relationships with first responders and police, as well as the supervisory agent in charge of FBI field offices and the regional Joint Terrorism Task Force.

DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., said that the FBI would be the lead responder if a hostage situation similar to Beslan-which ended in bomb blasts, a shootout and the death of 334 people, mostly children-occurred in the United States.

"The FBI, clearly in terms of the number of people that have been trained and deployed to deal with those situations, is best equipped to do it, but I daresay it would be a collaborative effort . …

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