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Enhancing Campus Safety and Security

Overview

With over 15 million students and several million more faculty and staff at U.S. institutions of higher education, it is not surprising that campus safety is of great interest to the public, and the public safety community. BJA has been a leader in providing resources to the field to help insure that the nation’s college and university campuses are safe and secure.

Campus Public Safety services vary greatly on the nation's college and university campuses. Campus law enforcement agencies include full-service police departments (both armed and unarmed), private security operations, contractual services, and more. Campus police departments also vary greatly in how they relate to and share information with local and state public safety agencies.

While high profile incidents like the 2007 Virginia Tech and 2008 Northern Illinois University shootings receive the attention of the media and government officials, this type of incident is actually the exception rather than the rule. Parents, students, and faculty deal with a variety of lower profile, but no less important, campus safety issues daily. These include:

  • High risk drinking
  • Illegal and prescription drug use and abuse
  • Violence against women, including stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault
  • Criminal intrusions
  • Natural disasters
  • Fire and life safety
  • Mental illness and suicide
  • Health crises
  • Food poisoning, food-borne diseases, pandemic flu

BJA has worked with our partners in the field to develop a variety of resources that address the diverse make-up of campus law enforcement departments that will assist them in addressing all forms of campus public safety concerns.

Recent Campus Projects Funded by BJA:

National Center for Campus Public Safety:

The National Center is a resource for campus police chiefs, directors of public safety, emergency managers and key campus safety stakeholders. With this in mind, the National Center is a catalyst that brings together all forms of campus public safety, professional associations, advocacy organizations, community leaders, and others to improve and expand services to those who are charged with providing a safe environment on the campuses of the nation's colleges and universities.

Background:

In 2004, the National Summit on Campus Public Safety was held in Baltimore, Maryland. The summit provided an opportunity for discussion and collaboration on more than 20 key issues. One of the recommendations to come out of the Summit was the need for a National Center for Campus Public Safety (National Center) because there is no one location for the myriad campus public safety resources and initiatives being undertaken nationwide, or for the fulfillment of critical information needs. With the many challenges currently facing campus safety professionals, the complexity of the environment has never been greater. The Center is needed to assist campus public safety leaders in navigating this environment.

Since the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007, several additional high profile incidents have adversely affected college and university campuses. These incidents range from natural disasters such as hurricanes and super storms to other rampage shooting incidents. In addition, concerns for the prevention of sexual and gender violence on campus (Title IX); challenges in Clery Act compliance, etc. all contribute to the opportunity for a central repository of safety and security information, technical assistance and training. These concerns highlight the need for a National Center that provides technical assistance to institutions of higher education in their efforts to enhance security and readiness on campus.

In March of 2013, Congress provided funding to BJA for the creation of the National Center. In consultation with key stakeholders and federal partners, BJA developed a competitive solicitation and received proposals to create and host the National Center. Through this process, a cooperative agreement and subsequent funding was awarded to Margolis Healy and Associates, LLC (MHA).

The Center works closely with BJA to:

  1. Identify and prioritize the needs of the field, and develop comprehensive responses.
  2. Connect existing federal and nonfederal resources with the needs of constituents.
  3. Connect major campus public safety entities with one another, and with federal agencies, to facilitate collaboration and coordination around issues of campus public safety.
  4. Highlight and promote best and innovative practices specific to campus public safety challenges.
  5. Deliver essential training and technical assistance specific to campus public safety.
Accomplishments:

During its first year of operation, the National Center made substantial progress in addressing several critical issues identified by campus public safety leaders. Key accomplishments include the following:

Developing and Delivering a Trauma-informed Sexual Assault Investigation and Adjudication Training Program

  • In response to the charge from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, as stated in the Not Alone report, the National Center partnered with subject experts and higher education institutions to develop and pilot a training program for campus officials that provides the information and resources necessary to conduct trauma-informed investigations in line with evolving practices. Ninety-one percent of participants that offered feedback on the initial pilot courses indicated they are better prepared to investigate and adjudicate sexual assault cases following the training.

Identifying Strategies for Enhancing Implementation of the Clery Act/Title IX

  • The National Center partnered with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Georgia Institute of Technology to orchestrate a two-part national summit entitled, “Practitioners’ Discussion of Implementing Clery/Title IX.” As a result of the first summit, promising practices were developed and included in a published report.
  • The National Center partnered with other leading public safety organizations and higher education institutions to host several forums to identify challenges in the implementation of the Clery Act, develop recommendations, and inform future policy efforts to reclaim the spirit of the act.

Informing Community Policing and the Use of Technology and Social Media

  • The National Center partnered with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to survey campuses regarding community policing initiatives. The findings were included in a report submitted to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, along with written testimony regarding community collaboration, technology, and social media.

Creating a Clearinghouse to Help Campus Public Safety Officials Improve Security

  • The National Center created a web-based resource center that currently has links to more than 140 government, professional, and nonprofit organizations that provide informational materials.
  • The National Center disseminated over a thousand resource materials to public safety executives, including toolkits, guidebooks, news articles, conference listings, and professional development opportunities.
  • National Center staff built a database and national directory of campus public safety executives and emergency managers assigned to the roles of chief security officer (CSO) and fire safety officer (FSO). The database includes the names of more than 8,600 CSOs and FSOs representing more than 7,100 institutions. Currently, the directory includes email addresses and other contact information for approximately 1,500 CSOs and 1,400 FSOs.

Promoting the National Center to the Campus Public Safety Community
National Center staff have presented to hundreds of public safety and higher education officials at leading conferences such as:

  • National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Annual Conference
  • National Sports Safety and Security Conference
  • Heartland Campus Safety Summit
  • International Association of Emergency Managers University and College Caucus Symposium
  • Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference held at the University of Vermont
  • National Conference on Law and Higher Education organized by Stetson University College of Law

Weekly Communication with the Campus Safety Community

  • The Weekly Snapshot, an electronic bulletin, offers another avenue for promoting campus public safety practices. It features timely campus safety resources and tips, including legislative updates and information about upcoming professional development opportunities. All Weekly Snapshots are archived on the National Center’s website and tagged for ease of access through the site’s search function. See the Weekly Snapshot Archives to review the topics addressed in the issues released to date.
  • National Center staff track the usage statistics for the Weekly Snapshot to assess the percentage of recipients that are accessing the resources provided via hyperlinks in the postings. The “click” and “open” rates for the Weekly Snapshot are much higher than those achieved by other entities in the education and services industry using this type of software to disseminate electronic communications. The “click-through” statistics for the hyperlinks included in the Weekly Snapshot provide an important indicator of recipients’ interest in the content.
  • The most accessed items introduced in Snapshot articles were the reports discussing implementing Clery/Title IX and a sample memorandum of understanding (referenced in the Not Alone report), Building Partnerships among Law Enforcement Agencies, Colleges and Universities: Developing a Memorandum of Understanding to Prevent and Respond Effectively to Sexual Assaults at Colleges and Universities. Looking at another important set of measures, the average “bounce back” and “opt-out” rates for the Weekly Snapshot are also much lower than the rates for other education and services organizations.

Since its creation, the National Center has hosted a number of Emerging Issues Forums on topics such as Policy Development and Implementation of Legislation Permitting the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on College and University Campuses, Campus Protests and Demonstrations: The Role of Emergency Management, Challenges in Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence at American Community Colleges, among others.

See NCCPS Key Accomplishments: July 1, 2014 to March 31, 2019 for a complete list of the National Center's accomplishments.