School safety is a growing concern across the United States. Less than a month into the 2023-2024 school year, UNC Chapel Hill has had two separate armed intruder situations. School security leaders have implemented a number of new technologies and procedures, including weapons detection, stricter access control and an increased police officer presence on campus.
Security leaders are also looking for ways to share their policies with other campuses. In Purdue University’s annual report, the school outlined necessary safety information in a central location for students, faculty and staff. The report highlights incidents that often take place on college campuses, including:
- Aggravated assault
- Domestic violence
- Hate crimes
- Motor vehicle theft
- Simple assault
According to the report, all Purdue University Northwest Police Department (PNWPD) officers attend the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. This includes more than 600 hours of training with an additional 24 hours of in-service training every year. This ensures all campus officers receive the same training and are kept up-to-date on new standards or risks.
In comparison, the campus public safety officers at Pacific University are described as “licensed security professionals” who work alongside Forest Grove or Hillsboro Police officers (dependent on county lines). Pacific University campus public safety officers don’t have the same authority as Forest Grove Police Officers, meaning that their response will be different in the event of an emergency.
Campus security officers, for example, are trained to respond to campus-specific issues. They’re familiar with codes of conduct and can respond to non-criminal incidents. This can include handling alcohol or other substances that aren’t illegal but are banned on campus grounds, or other university policy violations. Campus safety officers at Pacific University can make arrests, but then transfer individuals to police custody.
In addition to annual reports, schools are increasing direct communication with their students. Indiana University (IU) is offering emergency procedure training to students, faculty or staff who sign up. These trainings include recognizing the different potential emergency situations, defined by IU as:
- Active shooter-aggressor
- Bomb threats
- Fire & building evacuation
- Hazardous spills
- Infectious disease
- Medical emergency
- Natural disasters
- Utility failure
- Travel safety
IU also reminds students to sign up for emergency alerts, and utilizes social media to keep students up-to-date. The school also provided instructions on how to create an emergency kit, and encouraged students to keep them in dorms and cars.
Safety measures are useless if no one knows about them. Security leaders should consider the best way to share information with employees and students to keep campuses safe.