A Real Look Inside School Security

The life of a security guard at Pennridge high school is far from a desk job.  The day starts before anyone else is even in the building and ends when just a few people remain at the end of the day.  It brings many responsibilities that provide safety for every student and every member of the staff that most people don’t even realize.  Since implementing a new gun policy in the high school in 2019, two school police officers are now responsible for carrying a gun at all times around the high school.  To many, a security guard is only needed when there is an issue, but that is just not the case for Pennridge security guard Dan Branch and the others that help keep the school safe every day.

Head of security officer Mr. Gallo (https://www.pennridge.org/domain/1724)

The beginning of the school day starts officially at 7:15 a.m. for most students and staff, but for a security guard there day has already begun at this time.  In the morning, they are responsible for arrival no matter what the weather is which could start as early as 6:45 a.m. One security guard is in charge of the back parking lot while another monitors the front lot which involves a lot of kids walking to school as well as the busses and drivers.  Once the 7:15 a.m. mark hits, the security guards come in and go about their daily routine which includes monitoring the desks, watching the hallways, and answering any calls.  Branch, a former police officer, compares it to his previous line of work at times.  “Sometimes it almost feels like police work on a given day.  We don’t always know what we’re facing but we have to be ready for almost everything,” Branch said explaining what a normal day could face as a security guard.  Although Pennridge has never faced any serious issues in the past couple of years, there are many things security guards deal with on a daily basis that most don’t even realize.

A view of Pennridge High School from the side where security officers stand during arrival and dismissal. (https://kcba-architects.com/project/pennridge-high-school/ )

Instead of posing as a threat to the students, Branch discussed that he wants to maintain a presence in the hallways but also wants students to feel comfortable coming up to him and the other security guards in the hallway.  “My job in the hallways is to be a presence, but I also say hi to kids.  I enjoy seeing how everyone is doing and checking in on them.” The security guards’ job is not to make students feel scared but instead to make them feel comfortable as that is why they are in the school: for safety.  The goal is not for them to try and catch as many kids as possible but just to regulate what is going on throughout the day.  The cameras remain on throughout the day and are monitored at the security desk, but if anything is suspicious, they may go back and look at the cameras.  Part of the regulating process is done by responding to calls or alerts from teachers who think a student may be up to something.  Once a kid is caught, security guards are permitted to do a search and once administration arrives it is out of their hands.  Safety is a security guard’s number one priority and once that is achieved in a situation, they move on to the next.

With all this being said, not only is safety a number one priority of the security guard but also of the Pennridge school district and staff.  It is crucial that the students feel safe and have no worries while they are in the building.  Lindsey Campione, a junior in the high school, said, “I feel very safe in school.  On a scale of one to ten, I would say about a nine.”  The students at Pennridge high school are not worried about their safety which is very meaningful to the security guards and the staff members at the high school.  Campione also goes on to describe the process of arriving late and leaving early with attendance and feels like it is a very secure system that is a credit to the security guards.  Overall, many students at Pennridge high school feel safe when they are in school as the policies are put in place by the security guards to help make the school a safe place for students.  They have many jobs that go unnoticed and do a lot for the school that most people don’t even realize takes place.