School security consultants: For many a retirement job or new income stream, for a few of us a lifelong passion

Posted by on September 13, 2023

There are many qualified school safety and security consultants around the U.S. today. But for a much smaller number of us, school safety has been a lifelong passion far before it became trendy to be a school security consultant.

An inside look: My school safety journey began as a student in Cleveland junior and senior high schools 

Perhaps the focus of my news stories as a reporter for my high school newspaper afforded a foreshadowing of my now-lifetime passion for school safety.  Check out the headlines:

My first introduction to school safety came during my time as a school student in Cleveland’s public school district. The school district was under federal court-ordered desegregation and along with cross-town busing of students to address racial disparities identified by the Court, a Safety and Security Division was created in the district to keep order and safety.

While in junior high school typing class (that dates me, for sure), as one of the fastest students using a typewriter, I was asked to type the duty reports for my school’s security officer who did not type. My curiosity began there.  But my junior high exposure to school security accelerated quickly when I advanced to high school.

Over time instead of going to study hall, as eventually my senior class valedictorian I was granted the option to hang out in my high school’s security office.  It was there that my interest and passion for school safety caught fire as frequent fights, assaults, gang violence, and other security incidents occurred in my school. I had a frontline view of the inner workings of a school security department before such offices even existed in many of our nation’s schools.

I also developed an interest in the news media, an area in which I still do a great deal of work today. Headlines from high school newspaper stories I wrote had a common theme: School safety.

From student to school security professional – before it became a profession

My typing of the reports during my high school years led to my return after graduation to work in the Division of Safety and Security at my alma matter and other schools where I developed a specialized hands-on experience and interest in youth gangs. Report writing skills came in handy as gang eruptions turned into riots and the need for extensively documented reports for disciplinary and criminal hearings resulting from our investigations.

After several years of tracking gangs that officially did not exist due to leader denial in the city, I went on to create and supervise a five-person Youth Gang Unit that received national recognition for its handling of gang prevention, intervention, investigation, and enforcement for then 127-schools and 73,000+ students. I transitioned from Cleveland to a suburban school district security director role and assistant anti-gang task force director, and from there took an entrepreneurial risk of creating my national school safety consulting firm.

There are many other experiences and stories that added fuel to my fire during my early days in Cleveland, but without doubt it is clear where my school safety passion started.

School leaders connect with school safety consultants who understand schools – and school leaders respect those with a passion for school safety

I am often asked by former law enforcement, military professionals, and security consultants with stellar careers in other industries how I have been able to succeed in working for a couple decades as an independent consultant with PreK-12 schools.

“We’re having a hard time connecting with school administrators and getting them to be receptive to our message,” a couple of former military special operations pros-turned-security consultants said to me awhile back.  This was said after they attended my conference session and were seen taking pictures of my slides and recording some of my presentation during the program. Disguised as guests of a security product vendor, they disclosed that “we do what you do” as they introduced themselves, which later led me and a colleague to say, “What? They stayed up all night finishing a doctoral dissertation, delivered a keynote presentation, and are headed off to a plane before filing their final dissertation?”

What they really wanted to know was why I have a successful run as a highly visible school safety, security, and emergency preparedness trainer and consultant for PreK-12 schools. Why have I had success where many struggle translating their prior successful law enforcement, militiary, and other security experiences to their desire now to be a PreK-12 school security consultant?

The first answer is that as an expert witness on school safety civil litigation cases for state and federal court cases, the criteria to be recognized as an expert focuses on three areas: Education, training, and experience. With more than three decades of professional PreK-12 school safety experience, many hours of specialized training, and college education including graduate and doctoral degrees, I meet those criteria. There are others who do, as well.

But what I have been blessed with that others may not have is a lifetime passion for school safety.  It has burned since my days as a high school student. It is still burning today.

So our school clients get support in school safety problem solving that brings my decades of school safety education, training, and experience. Very importantly, they also get my decades of passion for school safety that is behind all that we do.

Indeed, there are many qualified school safety and security consultants around the U.S. today. There is plenty of room for new voices to be heard. There is plenty of room for new ideas for school safety to be discussed and debated.

But for a few of us, school safety has also literally been a lifetime passion.

Dr. Kenneth S. Trump is President of National School Safety and Security Services  

National School Safety and Security Services

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