The key for any college or university security program is the buy in from the top. Leadership takes charge and without that support, the job is much more difficult. There are so many challenges flying: maintenance, facilities, student life, drinking, assaults, diverse stakeholders with often competing or conflicting requests.
So Patrick Fiel, public safety advisor for ADT Security Services, advises that a solid step is a campus risk and vulnerability security assessment. “Here you would gain from a third party who can determine all your strengths and weaknesses including policies, procedures, staffing and technologies.” Fiel sees Clery Act regulations as “a blessing. Trained officers on campus are essential,” he says, adding that certified campus officer programs could play a greater role. For one, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the association that represents campus public safety leaders at more than 1,200 institutions of higher education, offers accreditation to colleges and university law enforcement, security, and public safety departments. Another source, the International Foundation for Protection Officers, has long-established certified protection officer and supervisor programs.
When it comes to incidents, Fiel believes that every potential situation should have a plan. And he encourages campuses to establish mass notification systems that can reach students, staff, administrators, the community and local law enforcement by myriad means. “During a crisis, communications must be ongoing and everyone has a role to play.”
As Fiel travels around the country, he talks campus safety tips aimed at parents and students who are deciding to make a college choice. Campus security executives can gain from his insights.
• Check campus crime rates and statistics. The federal Jeanne Clery Act of 1998 requires publicly funded schools and colleges to publish annual crime statistics for their campuses.
• Make sure the campus offers police or security escort services.
• Make sure all student housing facilities have cardkey-controlled entries and security cameras. Access to student housing should be limited to residents only and all visitors should be identified and registered before being allowed to enter.
• Ask questions about the university’s emergency plan. Find out how the college or university notifies staff, students, parents and the surrounding community about emergency situations.
• Check to see that there is bright lighting on the campus at night. Be sure the lighting extends to parking lots, walkways, recreation sites and other remote areas.
• Visit the campus police department and ask questions.