Protecting the pack

How Steve Brown made Monarch the model school for security


Campus security Steve Brown greets a student at the football game against Green Mountain on Oct. 28.

I drive into school and see the familiar face of Steven Brown, Monarch’s former security guard, signaling me to pull into Senior Lot. As I make my way up to the school entrance another former Monarch security guard, Levelle Hamilton, proudly claims it’s Tuesday, even though it’s Friday, making each student chuckle.
I shake my head at the classically embarrassing school photo on my fob and enter the school. Seeing my face in the big mirrors in the lobby, I remind myself to fix my hair when I get inside. And sometime during the day, I know Steve will freak out a freshman by saying their shoes are untied, even though their shoes don’t have laces.
This is a seemingly normal morning, but more than half of these occurrences are unique to Monarch High School security with many thanks to Steven Brown.
“If you walk into the main entrance, you see the big convex mirrors,” Brown said. “I bought and put those in so that the front office lady could see people walking in and out.” Students may not notice these mirrors because they’ve been here for quite a while, but they’re still special.
These efforts are why Brown has left his position at Monarch to become one of the school district’s new School Security Advocates (SSA).
Brown is the exact kind of person Jesse Lundsford, BVSD’s Safety and Security Manager, was looking for in the new SSA Program. Rather than going to police officers for school issues, like the School Resource Officer Program (SRO), people with an ample amount of security experience will now uphold safety within schools.
“We need somebody that’s more than competent to do their job. They need to be excellent at training and everything else.” Lundsford said.
While Brown wasn’t the only person who’s contributed to the well-structured security at Monarch, his passion for the job sets him apart. He had an extensive career in the federal government and police force. However, a different type of excitement comes to mind when he thinks about school security.
“When I had the ability to retire from the federal government, I took that opportunity to go into schools to protect children,” Brown said. “I love high school and I want everybody to enjoy their time here.”
SSAs will schedule monthly fire and lock down drills, investigate situations that occur within schools, and work to maintain an overall secure environment, similar to the former SRO Program. Police may not always be the best people to figure out the cause of school-related issues, so SSAs are ready to step into that role. They understand that different scenarios require different responses, so the new program aims to provide schools with a trusted safety resource, without a police badge.
“Police will still get called if they’re needed,” Brown said. “We’re trying to go case by case and not refer everything to the police.”
The new model for BVSD security all comes back to Monarch High School, which has been referenced as “the flagship school” in Boulder Valley when it comes to security. It starts with an idea and support of the staff.
“[Brown] helped us review what our safety procedures are. It was good to have somebody to knock around ideas with,” Principal Neil Anderson said. When Anderson joined the Monarch team in 2017, he was ready to tackle certain issues in security with Brown as a resource.
The first thing that went to the drawing board was the security and student relationship. Brown was ready to become fully immersed in the Monarch community and find the balance between having fun and laying down the law.
“You don’t want the students to fear you,” Brown said. “We’re their ally, we’re here to help.” He has carefully worked on creating a relationship with students in order to let them know he’s striving to keep them comfortable, learning, and happy.
In order to enforce safety protocols, Brown is firm with students, especially the underclassmen. Once kids know Brown means business, he has the freedom to joke around and be goofy. He lightens up on his demeanor, but never his safety measures.
“I think he had a good balance,” Garrett Myers ‘22 said. “He always wanted us to be rowdy at games, but at the same time he always wanted us to be safe.”
Another aspect of the security at Monarch that has changed over the years is the way fire drills and lockdowns are conducted. The classic fire drill procedure is to immediately leave the building when the alarm sounds. However, one thing became clear regarding the safety of this design. An active shooter could pull the alarm to get students into the hallways and into their line of fire. So, to accommodate this new risk to student safety, the staff made some changes.
“We had to rewrite our entire emergency operation plan, train and retrain our staff and students on what we want to see when it comes to situations of emergency.” Anderson said. Big changes needed to be made to ensure every student would continue to feel safe during drills and actual emergencies.
Since the idea of a school shooter entering the building was on their minds, the idea for key fobs came into play. These are cards that allow any Monarch student to enter the building without waiting for someone to let them in.
Soon the district took notice of Monarch High School. “There’s physical security….then there’s the people part of it,” Lundsford said. Monarch has been working on both aspects of security BVSD believes are important.
This is where the idea the district has been working towards comes into play.
“We are refocusing how we look at everything from a student first perspective,” Lundsford said. By addressing how students see their school and what will make them feel the safest, it’s a consensus in BVSD that the safer the student is, the better they learn.
Brown and Hamilton are two people who have successfully implemented a school safety system that is admired by BVSD employees and students. They are now working towards bringing that vision to all Boulder Valley schools in their new jobs in the district.
“I think I’m more excited for this position than I was for the federal government position,” Brown said.