Paul Timm, PSP: The Pulse of Security
June 24, 2021 / by The “I Love U Guys” Foundation
This is the first of several speaker profiles for The Summer Briefings: The “I Love U Guys” Foundation’s biannual school safety symposium. The Briefings are a nationally recognized school safety symposium delivering practical and usable information for educators, school safety teams, first responders, emergency and risk managers, victim advocates, and mental health professionals. Learn more about and register for the event one attendee called “such a great experience! The material is presented in a way that does not create a sense of fear, but of preparedness.” The Summer Briefings are on July 6–9, 2021.
A nationally acclaimed expert in school security, Paul Timm is the Vice President of Facility Engineering Associates and author of School Security: How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Program. His background in school safety assessment is deep and wide, including a Board-Certified Physical Security Professional (PSP) and certification in Vulnerability Assessment Methodology through Sandia National Laboratories and the ALPHA vulnerability assessment methodology.
We’re excited to have Mr. Timm join The Summer Briefings where he’ll present “Emerging from COVID — School Security & Emergency Planning.”
Thank you for giving us some time, Paul. Can you tell us about your personal story that has brought you into the school safety space?
I am second-generation in the security industry. I grew up at Argonne National Labs in the Chicago area. My dad was a pioneer in the physical security industry. Argonne is just a big research campus, so… we were familiar with campus security. When the Columbine tragedy happened in 1999, we were uniquely positioned to make a contribution in the K-12 arena. My first foray into the national scene occurred shortly after when I was asked to speak in tandem with the chief deputy district attorney of Jefferson County about the Columbine incident.
School safety requires collaboration across many stakeholders. Can you explain why this is so necessary for your area of concern?
Yes. The various angles of expertise are so important. Teachers, for example, operate communication systems regularly. I can inspect those systems and find vulnerabilities, but teachers can provide specifics. Administrative assistants greet visitors, handle mail, receive telephone calls, and so on. Students, maybe the most important stakeholder group, are ahead of adults in technology and have a better pulse on potential issues. We must make it a collaborative effort if we want a comprehensive, holistic approach.
What would you say is your role in minimizing trauma for students?
Just like adults, students want a safe learning environment. In order to provide that kind of environment, we must address physical security and social-emotional well-being. I [continually] advocate for giving students a voice in protective measures.
What would you say is the single most misunderstood element of your work? What would you like to change about the way people think about your work?
People don’t know what we do. Some think we sell security systems and products. Others think we want to make schools look like prisons. As a security consultant, I want to give administrators a clear picture of what protective measures they have in place, an idea of the effectiveness of those measures, and a prioritized roadmap for improvement. The best way to change that is through education.
Come and join me on a security assessment! It’s very eye-opening.
What kinds of positive actions have you seen in terms of how school safety practitioners are making their schools safer? Examples we can all use to improve?
Administrators often learn that they can change the culture of the schools from a sort of “Mayberry” mindset to a “See Something, Say Something” mindset. When that begins to happen, people make personal investments, and everybody starts rowing in the same direction. I often have people approach me to let me know that they will adjust behaviors (e.g. stop propping doors, start displaying ID badges). It’s gratifying to see how people respond when they have information. And I love it when students are given the platform to share security-related information (e.g. briefings on social media, concerns about security measures).
Name one learning you hope school safety practitioners will take away from your session at The Briefings.
They will be glad to find that many of the strategies and recommendations that I provide are low cost — or even no cost.
The Summer Briefings are on July 6–9, 2021. For the full agenda of speakers and panels and to register, visit The Summer Briefings webpage. For large group registrations, contact us today.
Written by The “I Love U Guys” Foundation