According to a survey of 179,000 college students, over 72% replied that they are worried about campus safety.
College campuses have a responsibility to protect their students from theft and injury, and make them feel as safe as possible. Before the new fall semester starts, take time to improve safety measures.
While no college can guarantee every student’s security, they can follow a number of security best practices to reduce risk.
Here are the top three things that your school can do today to create a better communication and safety strategy.
1. Improve Communication Channels
When a security incident occurs, who is notified? Who reviews security incidents on a regular cadence? Who is responsible for identifying trends and patterns?
And when do students find out about security events that may concern them?
Communication breakdown is the most significant issue that colleges face because there often aren't protocols that direct the way communication is handled. A single security guard may be aware that a restraining order has been taken out against an individual; however, if it isn't widely communicated, another security guard may not be notified — and that's how mistakes happen and injuries occur.
Everyone involved in campus security must have a clear method of communication, such as a consolidated system through which updates and announcements can be made. Everyone, from security guards to the head of campus security, must be aware of security protocols, and must be aware of which incidents are reportable or prioritized.
And it isn't just campus security that needs to be in the know. Students should also be aware of surrounding risks, or they may not protect themselves properly. Incidents, once filtered through the proper channels, should be distributed to students as well, so they are more cautious and minimize risks.
By ensuring that incidents are properly reported and the details disseminated, your campus can create paper trails that can be used as evidence and protect the campus in the event further issues occur. With the right documentation and analysis, a campus can become more conscientious regarding the incidents that are occurring on its property and can reduce risk.
2. Upgrade and Maintain Campus Security Technology
Security technology is being upgraded all the time. Campuses have to prioritize security spending if they're to protect their students. Surveillance equipment and access controls are the most important technologies to regularly upgrade.
- Access control technology ensures that students are safer in areas they should expect to feel safe in. In other words, technology should be used to secure dormitories and dorm rooms, in addition to any areas that are intended to be student restricted. Too often, older, unreliable technology is used that students are able to easily break through. Students and stakeholders should also be made aware of proper protocols to follow when entering or leaving secured areas.
- Large scale, violent events are unfortunately a realistic concern. Lock down technology makes it possible to automatically secure doors and hallways, and protect students, in the event that a dangerous or violent event is occurring. The campus must be able to quickly lock down areas remotely to respond to such threats.
- A comprehensive alert system should be implemented and maintained. Students, above all, need to know when an incident is occurring on campus. Creating a highly preventative and responsive communication strategy to keep students up-to-date on pertinent information.
Campus security systems age. Older technologies may take some money to upgrade, but they will pay back significant dividends in terms of improved security.
3. Create Preparedness Plans for Major Security Events
It's hard for a security system to be effective if it hasn't been tested. While there are fire drills and earthquake drills, there may not be regular security drill testing schedules in place. It’s critical to clearly define and update officials who are responsible for reacting to these events, the chain of command, what actions need to be taken, and what follow up (if any) is needed.
An emergency response team should be outlined, with specific actions for each person or group during different types of security events. A chain of command is necessary: everyone should know how events get escalated, and who is responsible for taking what action.
In addition to managing the event itself, a campus must also be prepared to deal with the fallout to help get campus life back to normal as quickly as possible. Post-crisis debriefing, counseling, and support should all be planned for as a part of general preparedness. Deploying these services quickly is key to improving upon overall student body health.
This summer, your campus can improve upon its existing safety protocols — and ensure that students come back to a well-secured, comfortable campus. With the right processes and technology, college campuses can improve their overall security, but it takes time and effort. Security relies upon many factors: if there's a weak link, the entire security infrastructure can fall apart.
By improving upon surveillance strategies and technology, campuses can improve the chances of noticing and mitigating potential security risks. Through solid communication protocols and technology, campuses can make sure everyone is on the same page and that everyone is notified of major security events. And through training, processes, and strategies, campuses are able to empower security personnel to act when faced by major security issues.
Campus security is continually changing as new technology evolves and new threats emerge. However, most security issues are fairly easy to counter: theft, break-ins, and vandalism. By implementing the above best practices, campuses can ensure that their students feel comfortable and are able to focus on learning rather than on their personal safety.