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Dennis Lane: Bringing Experience, Commitment to Role as Director of Protective Services

If you enjoyed the carpool videos that debuted at the beginning of the school year, you can thank, among others, Dennis Lane, who appears alongside Head of School Doreen Kelly at the beginning of each division’s video. As director of protective services, one of his responsibilities is assessing campus traffic flow and carpool procedures to help Ravens big and small get where they’re going safely and efficiently.

Truth be told, working in front of a camera isn’t how Lane typically spends his time. In the 11 years he’s been at Ravenscroft, he’s done significant work behind the scenes to ensure the safety and security of students, faculty and staff, families and campus visitors.

The Ravenscroft Board of Trustees created the position of security manager in 2008 and the Executive Team quickly hired Lane, who as a 30-year veteran of the Raleigh Police Department brought a wealth of experience and expertise to the new role. When he retired as a major with the R.P.D., he was serving as commander over the department’s investigative division, managing 140 detectives and eight civilians. For 10 of those years, he also coordinated the off-duty officers providing security at Cardinal Gibbons High School, so he was familiar with the needs of independent schools.

In addition to that experience, Lane is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and NC State’s Administrative Officers Management Program and completed a six-month executive fellowship with the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice. After his retirement, he spent a year working as one of two lead investigators for the defense in the Duke Lacrosse case.

When he joined Ravenscroft in September 2008, he jumped right in.

“One of the first things I did was bring off-duty Raleigh police officers on campus and change our contract security company,” he said. “We then started looking at additional ways to enhance security.”

Other changes or upgrades during Lane’s tenure include:

  • The installation of a traffic light at the Falls of Neuse Road entrance. “We petitioned the city to get that light installed. It’s one thing I’m very proud of,” Lane said.

  • Additional security cameras, up from 14 in 2009 to 73 (and counting) in 2019

  • Replacement of Nextel phones (used by Buildings & Grounds staff) for emergency communications with 39 two-way digital radios, stationed across campus

  • Installation of key-card access control systems, first in the Lower School and now also in the Middle School, Upper School and Keim Center

  • Replacement of fencing along campus borders. “That was a joint project with Buildings & Grounds,” Lane said. “It makes the campus more aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also a security measure.”

  • Marked police cars parked on campus, which Lane calls “an obvious deterrent” to crime

Of course, it’s not just police cars that are on campus. Currently, 18 of Raleigh’s finest — hand-picked by Lane — help maintain safety and security at Ravenscroft. They are here every school day and at after-hours events such as dances and games.

The officers also engage in outreach with students. Many Lower Schoolers enjoy a yearly visit from an officer who talks about the ways police work to keep them safe. Middle and Upper School forensics classes have brought officers in to share their investigative expertise. “They’re not here just to prevent crimes but also to be a positive, visible role model,” Lane said. “We want our students to know it’s OK to go to an officer with a need or concern.”

The same is true for the adults on campus. Lane encourages faculty and staff to maintain vigilance and share any worries they may have with him. “I tell parents it’s not just me looking out for their children. I have 243 extra sets of eyes and ears helping me out," he said. “Parents’ support is very important, too. Not a week goes by without a parent asking me a question or sharing a concern.”

If it seems like a big job, it is. In recognition of that, school leadership — at Lane’s suggestion — renamed the position “director of protective services.” 

“We knew this role needed to be about more than day-to-day security,” Lane said. “It includes collaborating on risk management and crisis communications related to traffic, weather and on-campus emergencies. My team communicates with chaperones to stay apprised of students’ care when they’re on trips. We even monitor updates from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on health hazards such as vaping or food recalls that could affect our dining services.”

Leonard Johnson, associate head of school for business and finance, sees tremendous value in the role and what Lane brings to it. “Dennis brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our school operations. His ability to recognize and address immediate security concerns provides a better level of safety for our community than ever before,” he said.