Twenty-five-year-old Bradley Mrazek was arrested after he abducted a nine-year-old student from Parkside Elementary School in San Mateo, California last week. Mrazek is being held on eight criminal counts after he allegedly entered the school and abducted the girl who was able to escape from the man. Police report that Mrazek had actually trespassed at three different schools that day. Police also believe that Mrazek was the same man who entered a stall in a girl’s restroom at George Washington Elementary School in Daly City last March. The suspect in that case fled after he tried to take photographs of children in the restroom.
These and other cases demonstrate that there are instances where individuals enter school facilities undetected in order to harm students and staff. As we have mentioned previously, Safe Havens International Analysts have typically been able to conduct successful passive, simulated abductions of students for more than 90% of attempts during assessment projects where our clients request we do so. Passive simulated abductions involve attempts by our analysts to breach the security of a school facility and to persuade students to take us on a tour of their school using a ruse. These simulations are carefully planned, conducted and coordinated so they do not cause alarm. Our analysts use similar approaches to those that have been utilized by actual aggressors but we never use any form of threats, coercion or touch a child.
These simulations have proven to be extremely effective at helping to determine how real offenders have been able to breach access control systems, sign in policies and other preventive measures so gaps can be closed to reduce risk
Often, seemingly effective school security measures fail to stop an aggressor because staff are not properly trained on why specific aspects of visitor screening and access control measures are important. For example, we have found in our school safety assessments that we can typically carry out a simulation successfully when even 10-20% of school staff members are not wearing photo identification cards. This is because staff are often reluctant to challenge a visitor without a visitor badge when they are used to seeing people in the building without an identification card.
Unfortunately, these types of school safety incidents can take place in the best of schools in the nicest communities because aggressors will seek victims where they feel security measures are lax. Improving school access control, student supervision, visitor screening and other prevention measures can reduce the risks of danger to students and staff from intruders at schools.