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NOTE: Loras Jaeger of Iowa State University originally wrote this chapter in 1994 and Christopher Blake, CAE, associate director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators updated it in 2009.

The role of campus security has changed dramatically in the past several decades. Security and law enforcement departments that were once self-sufficient and went relatively unnoticed have emerged as highly visible and integral participants in the campus community. As the issue of recruitment and retention continues to become more entwined with student safety, the role of campus security departments will become more critical.

The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the major elements of campus security in today’s higher education environment. The chapter will focus on eight major topics: campus security role, staffing, interagency cooperation, federal reporting regulations, campus safety issues, crime prevention, fire protection, and professionalism.

The chapter will begin by describing the various roles of campus security personnel on a continuum from security guard to university police officer. The chapter will also focus on staffing requirements and the important role that students play in providing safety services. It will examine interagency cooperation with other law enforcement entities, including contracting for policing services and the establishment of mutual aid agreements.

Another focus of this chapter will be the federal reporting regulations currently required of all colleges and universities, covering such areas as crime statistics, how to report crimes, policies on sexual assault investigations, and open-campus law enforcement logs.

Campus safety issues will be reviewed, including a discussion regarding contemporary crime prevention programs, modern equipment, and safe campus physical design criteria. The chapter will also include a section on fire protection as it relates to campus security personnel and will conclude with the evolution of campus security departments toward a higher level of professionalism.

Campus Security Roles


The year 1994 was a milestone in campus law enforcement, as it marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of campus law enforcement in the United States. In 1894, two New Haven police officers were hired by Yale University and given full police powers to handle campus law enforcement problems. The hiring of these two officers is widely recognized as the beginning of the first organized and professional campus police department.

Since that humble beginning, the role of campus security/law enforcement agencies continues to be one of change. In early American higher education, campus administrators were more concerned about heating buildings, providing a fire watch, and locking doors than they were with the physical protection of the individuals inside them. Firm discipline maintained by the faculty or administration controlled much of the student conduct in those times. However, as American life changed and the power of faculty to control student conduct diminished, campus administrators looked for ways both to control student misconduct and to provide facility building protection. This has led to the need for various services, including private contract campus security, watch guards, security personnel, and campus police.

The campus unrest of the late 1960s and early 1970s and the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1993 sent a wake-up call that all campuses must properly address the issues of personal safety and campus security. During the 1980s a series of successful lawsuits filed by families of campus crime victims alleging inadequate campus security exerted pressure on campus executives to provide adequate campus security programs with professional, full-service police agencies.1 Increasingly, concern for the safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors has caused many college and university administrators to rethink the role of security on their campuses. Campus police were more likely than local police agencies to assess recruits’ community relations skills prior to hiring.2

Generally, a college or university will employ security officers, peace officers holding some type of commission or certification, or both. Almost all campus agencies that employed sworn officers conducted criminal records background checks, reference checks, background investigations, and driving record checks of applicants for sworn positions, according to the Department of Justice, BJS, Special Report. Most agencies also used additional screening methods, including psychological evaluations, written aptitude tests, physical agility tests, and medical exams, when hiring sworn officers, according to the BJS report.

Security Function

Security officers’ powers range from limited or no peace officer power (not commissioned or certified) to full arrest powers. In law violation situations, noncommissioned security officers have the same powers and limitations of an ordinary citizen. Noncommissioned security officers should not be expected to handle crime problems; instead, they should be the “eyes and ears” for the campus. If they see criminal activity occurring, they should report it immediately to the appropriate policing authority.

On some campuses, security officers function in a watch guard capacity, and at others, they function in a higher level security capacity. What confuses the general public and muddies the definition of security is the issue of police powers. Some campus public safety departments have evolved into full-service police operations with sworn officers. They have peace officer status through the authority of a city or state government. They function much like city police officers, and many times, when comparing campus law enforcement officers with city police officers, it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Some colleges and universities have nonsworn officers and other campuses hire contract security.

It is possible to visit a campus and observe persons in uniform wearing a security patch but having limited or no law enforcement responsibility, and then to visit another campus and observe persons in similar uniform wearing a security patch with full arrest powers.

In a watch guard operation, the primary function is the protection of campus property. Such guards walk the grounds, ensure that buildings are properly locked, and have a primary role in fire detection and prevention. Watch guards generally wear some type of uniform, carry radios, monitor buildings, and patrol a regular beat.

In a higher level security operation, personnel are involved not only in the protection of campus property, but also in the protection of visitors, faculty, staff, and students. They are expected to develop crime prevention programs and to become more integrated into the mainstream campus environment.

Generally, campus security agencies are grounded in the philosophy of maintenance of order. They are expected to emphasize orderly activity rather than strict adherence to rules. This logical philosophy stems from the humanistic values held by most colleges and universities. Persuasion rather than force is the model in maintaining order.

Law Enforcement Function

In an attempt to serve the increasing demands by students, faculty, and staff for a safer campus, many university and college administrators are moving toward campus law enforcement with full peace officer (police) powers, rather than depending on the city police department to handle criminal matters. Although both types of departments have similar responsibilities and authority, there are significant differences.

The age range of campus student clientele, generally 18 to 24 years old, has little resemblance to the age range of those living in a city. The academic community tends to downplay or even deny the need for force as a means of controlling disorder, whereas in a city the need for the use of force by police is considered to be a normal part of the job. Education and debate are the backbone of a campus environment, whereas a city relies on political power, economic growth, the tax base, and quality of life as major issues of identity.

A full-service campus law enforcement agency does have some functions similar to those of a city police department. It preserves the public peace and order, prevents and detects crime, protects persons and property, and enforces the law. However, the functions of a campus law enforcement agency are actually even more complex than these responsibilities indicate. It must assume many building and grounds security issues that are not part of the responsibility of a city police officer. Those in the agency must understand the many rules and regulations of the institution and be able to make decisions on when to arrest a student, when to refer a student internally to the school’s judicial process, or when to do both.

Campus peace officers are required to attend an academy and successfully complete a course of instruction before receiving a commission or certification. This training generally includes classes on criminal law, constitutional law, firearms, evidence preservation, patrol procedures, traffic control procedures, investigation and arrest procedures, accident investigation, report writing, procedures with juveniles, physical fitness, and self-defense tactics. Campus law enforcement personnel are expected to understand campus policies and procedures, such as those involving student rights, diversity, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, in addition to federal and state laws.

Campus peace officers, through their commission or certification, have both arrest powers and investigative powers. Arrest powers give the campus peace officer the right to use force if necessary, to search after arrest, and to exercise seizure and restraint of the person arrested. Investigative powers give the campus peace officer the right, when appropriate and constitutionally acceptable, to stop and detain a person, frisk the person for weapons, question, and interrogate.

During the 2004-05 school year, 74 percent of the 750 law enforcement agencies serving four-year universities and colleges with 2,500 or more students employed sworn law enforcement officers with full arrest powers granted by a state or local government, according to the BJS report. The remainder of colleges and universities employed nonsworn security officers. Nearly all public campuses (93 percent) used sworn officers, compared to less than half of private institutions (42 percent), according to the BJS report.

The decision by a college or university as to the type of department needed to handle security matters is not an easy one to make. When deciding on the type of security department that would meet the needs of the institution, administrators should consider the following:

  • Size of the campus
  • Campus setting (urban or rural)
  • Number of criminal offenses that occur
  • Level of violence on or around the campus
  • Type of institution (private or public)
  • Number of large social events that occur during the year and the history of problems with them
  • Relationship with local law enforcement and the community government (“town-gown relations”)
  • Number of students living on campus

Many administrators have come to realize that police departments in the cities where their institutions are located do not provide the special care demanded in a campus setting. This realization is giving rise to a rethinking of the role of the campus security department. This rethinking may take the form of security agencies becoming peace officers and taking over the role of primary law enforcement on campus.

The media has placed colleges and universities on notice that they must show greater accountability for what occurs on a campus. This has been reinforced by a federal mandate to report crime statistics. Parents are asking about the selection, training, and equipping of campus officers.

Whether the decision is to hire peace officers or non-peace-officer security guards, one issue is clear: The public expects that personnel assigned to campus security/law enforcement functions be carefully selected and well trained.



The staffing of a campus security/law enforcement agency is the most important decision an administrator can make in upgrading or maintaining a good security/law enforcement agency.

A number of methods have been suggested for evaluating staffing needs for campus agencies. Studies of these methods show that there is no best way to determine staffing needs. Still, the following pertinent questions should be asked by the administrator when considering a request to add staff to a campus security/law enforcement agency:

  • What is the number of officers on duty, especially during the nighttime hours, compared with the number of students living on campus? Compare this with similar institutions.
  • Does the institution have a medical or research facility? Medical facilities, especially those with trauma units, generally need a larger security staff.
  • Is the institution located in a rural or urban setting?
  • How large is the institution, including student population, number of buildings, and acres?
  • Is the institution separated from the community by distance or by physical barriers?
  • What is the level of serious crime on campus, and how does this compare with other campuses of similar size? Refer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) publication Crime in the United States, released annually in October.
  • What is the crime rate in the community surrounding the campus?
  • What are the demographics of the student body? A graduate school with older students tends to have lower crime problems. Is it a commuter campus?
  • How many patrol officers are available to respond to a call for service? Do not include officers who primarily work at a desk or who generally do not patrol.
  • How many major events occur throughout the year, and is there a history of violence associated with one or more of them? Examples include football games, outdoor concerts, or other large outdoor events during which alcohol is served.
  • Are officers assigned other duties, such as building lockdowns or fire extinguisher checks? The greater the number of auxiliary duties, the more likely the need for an increase in staff. Keep in mind that students are excellent resources for auxiliary duties.
  • Is the campus adequately lighted? Does it have emergency telephones?

Another way of determining staffing needs is by examining the number of calls for service handled by personnel. A call for service is simply a request for the security/law enforcement agency to do something. Such calls can range from a report of a serious crime in progress to a request to remove a cat from a tree.

At a minimum, the agency should analyze the number of calls for service handled by personnel in a one-year period. Then a determination should be made on the types of calls received. How many are truly emergency calls, and how many are routine calls?

Next, the average time required to handle each incident should be analyzed, along with the response time for both emergency and nonemergency calls. Finally, the agency should factor in time lost through days off, holidays, average sick leave, average vacation time, training, and other leave. By conducting this analysis, the administrator should be able to determine how much time in an average eight-hour shift is spent on emergency and nonemergency calls for service. The remaining time can be broken down into preventive patrol activities, crime prevention, training, and breaks, for example. This analysis should also assist the administrator in identifying problem areas on campus.

This should then lead to directed patrol activities. Directed patrol simply means that during those times that an officer is not responding to a call for service, the officer is assigned a specific task. For example, if the institution has received numerous complaints of bicycle riders violating traffic control devices, a directed patrol activity might include assigning an officer to a specific traffic control intersection during those times in which the complaints are received.

Selection of a Manager (Chief)

For many years, it was common for college and university administrators to look for retired FBI agents, local law enforcement officials, or military officials to fill management positions in a security/law enforcement agency. Current campus security/law enforcement supervisors possess strong leadership skills that complement their expertise and background in campus life issues. Many of those who now hold management positions are well educated, holding at least a bachelor’s degree, and have several years of progressive supervision and management experience.

How does one go about finding a truly outstanding person to administer a campus security/law enforcement agency? First, find a successful program and ask how it became successful. What was done to make the program a leader in its field? What do administrators look for when selecting a manager or chief?

Second, clearly spell out the qualifications for the position. Then make sure that the expectations of the position are articulated to the final candidates. Issues that should be addressed include the degree of freedom in decision making, to whom this person will directly report, and what resources will be available to enable this person to accomplish his or her job.

Third, advertise in publications that will get the best results. Two outstanding law enforcement sources are the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. IACLEA advertises position openings on its website. In addition, The Chronicle of Higher Education is an excellent publication for security/law enforcement openings.

Fourth, carefully put together a selection committee to review applications and interview final candidates. Make sure that students, faculty, and staff are included. It is also important that the selection committee be made up of persons of diversity.

Fifth, when a conditional offer of employment has been made, a detailed background investigation must be conducted. The manager or chief of the security/law enforcement agency generally has daily contact with the media. An incompetent manager has the potential to cause serious public relations problems for the institution.

Utilization of Students

Students have been found to be a valuable resource for security/law enforcement agencies. Students are used to provide escorts, lock/unlock buildings, write parking tickets, direct traffic, and walk campus grounds.

Some institutions have gone even further by using students as university services officers (community services officers). Students are assigned either to walking beats or to vehicles and provide backup to regular officers. University services officers direct traffic, assist at accident or other emergency scenes, and take some routine reports such as bicycle thefts and vandalism reports. They also attend many of the ongoing training sessions attended by regular officers.

Some institutions have even used students as security officers in place of traditional full-time watch guards. This has been found to be both cost-effective and a way for students to work their way through school.

Interagency Cooperation


It is important that agreements be reached between the campus security/law enforcement agency and other law enforcement agencies in adjoining jurisdictions to provide assistance or outright law enforcement services.

Law enforcement services for a campus can be provided in three ways. First, campuses may contract with another law enforcement agency to provide all policing functions. Second, assistance (or backup) can be provided by another law enforcement agency through a mutual aid agreement. Third, when concurrent jurisdiction is present, law enforcement services can be provided through a letter of understanding clearly spelling out each agency’s responsibilities.

Contract for Law Enforcement Services

Some institutions have elected to contract either for security services from an outside company or for law enforcement services from a city or county. Contracting for law enforcement services is not done frequently. There is usually some degree of friction between the local city and the university or college. In addition, there is a fear that the university or college will lose control over criminal matters that occur on campus if they allow the local police to handle all calls. Local police are also reluctant to provide any security functions that are routine for campus law enforcement personnel; this generally means that security guards must be hired by the institution.

When a contract is successful, it is usually because the “town-gown” relationship is good, and there is little crime on campus. Success is also more likely on relatively small campuses, where local police limit their activity to cruising the campus in addition to their other regular beats and responding to calls for service when asked.

Mutual Aid Agreements

Mutual aid agreements are becoming commonplace between law enforcement agencies. It is not unusual for a campus law enforcement agency to have a mutual aid agreement with several other law enforcement agencies while part of a multijurisdictional drug task force. That same campus agency may have another mutual aid agreement with one or two local agencies that allows for the sharing of law enforcement resources when the need for assistance arises.

The mutual aid agreement should include an estimate of the types of resources, in both personnel and equipment, available. At a minimum, the agreement should contain the following:

  • The legal status of each law enforcement agency participating and the amount of resources available
  • Procedures for providing the invited agency personnel with the proper legal authority to act
  • The identity of those persons or positions authorized to request mutual aid
  • The identity of the person or position that outside personnel are to report to when mutual aid is requested
  • Procedures for maintaining radio communication with an outside agency
  • Procedures for the mass arrest, processing, and transporting of prisoners
  • Expenditures, if any, that should be borne by the requesting agency to compensate the agency providing the mutual aid

A mutual aid agreement should be reviewed at least annually to ensure that it describes the current legal status of, as well as current information about, the agencies involved in the agreement.

Letter of Understanding

Many institutions have their own law enforcement agency, with the local city or county law enforcement agency having concurrent jurisdiction or equal authority on the campus. In these situations, a letter of understanding is important to clearly delineate areas of responsibilities.

The letter of understanding should contain the following:

  • Clearly spelled out procedures outlining which agency responds to calls for service on the campus by type of incident. This is of particular importance for campus law enforcement agencies whose agents have peace officer powers but do not carry side arms.
  • Command responsibility between the campus law enforcement agency and the city/county agency, when the two are involved in joint investigations
  • Procedures for calling in backup support from either agency
  • Policies concerning the writing of city/county citations on the campus and the arrest/booking of persons taken into custody on the campus

Federal Reporting Regulations


Administrators of a campus law enforcement agency should be well aware of the liability issues surrounding personal safety issues. The media campaign waged by Howard and Constance Clery, with help from Pennsylvania Congressman William Goodling, after the death of their daughter at Lehigh University, has led to the passage of federal legislation requiring the release of crime information by colleges and universities. The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act was signed into law in November 1990 by President George H. W. Bush. In the spring of 1994, the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations to this act. The act was amended in 1998 and renamed the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, and was further amended in 2008.

The Jeanne Clery Act requires any institution receiving Title IV student aid assistance to prepare and make public an annual campus security report to all current students and employees by October 1 of each year. It also requires that the report be provided on request to any applicant for enrollment or employment.

The act, for the first time, required all postsecondary institutions to establish a recordkeeping system and then report specific criminal incidents to students and employees. It also requires an annual report containing statistics on the number of specified crimes (murder; forcible or nonforcible sex offenses, including rape; robbery; aggravated assault; burglary; and motor vehicle theft) committed during the three calendar years preceding the year in which the report is issued. The following definitions of murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft are found in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Crime in the United States3:

  • Criminal homicide: These offenses must be separated into two categories: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, and negligent manslaughter. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter is defined as the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another. Negligent manslaughter is defined as the killing of another person through gross negligence.
  • Sex offenses. For sex offenses only, the definitions are derived from the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System Edition of the Uniform Crime Reporting program. These offenses must be separated into two categories: forcible and nonforcible. Forcible sex offenses are defined as any sexual act directed against another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent. Nonforcible sex offenses are incidents of unlawful, nonforcible sexual intercourse, which includes incest and statutory rape.
  • Robbery: Taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of another person or persons by force or threat of force or violence or by putting the victim in fear.
  • Aggravated assault: The unlawful attack of one person by another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Attempts are included; it is not necessary for an injury to result when a gun, knife, or other weapon is used that could and probably would result in serious personal injury if the crime were successfully completed.
  • Burglary: The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. The use of force to gain entry is not required to classify an offense as burglary. Burglary is categorized into three sub-classifications: forcible entry; unlawful entry, where no force is used; and attempted forcible entry.
  • Motor vehicle theft: The theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle; this includes the stealing of automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, motor scooters, snowmobiles, etc. The definition excludes the taking of a motor vehicle for temporary use by those persons having lawful access.
  • Arson. The willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without attempt to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle, or aircraft, personal property of another, etc.
  • Hate Crimes. Institutions must include, by geographic location and by category of prejudice, any of the aforementioned offenses and any other crime involving bodily injury reported to local police agencies or to a campus security authority that manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias. Categories of bias are race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, and disability. Amendments to the law adopted in 2008 require the collection and reporting of additional hate crime data according to category of prejudice, including larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation, and destruction, and damage or vandalism to property.

The act also requires disclosure on the number of arrests for liquor law violations, drug abuse violations, and weapons possessions that occurred on campus.

  • Liquor law violations: The violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting the manufacture, sale, purchase, transportation, possession, or use of alcoholic beverages, not including driving under the influence and drunkenness.
  • Drug abuse violations: The violation of laws prohibiting the production, distribution, and/or use of certain controlled substances and the equipment or devices utilized in their preparation and/ or use.
  • Weapon law violations: The violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting the manufacture, sale, purchase, transportation, possession, concealment, or use of firearms, cutting instruments, explosives, incendiary devices, or other deadly weapons.4

The institution must set forth its policies on how to report criminal activity, the role and authority of the campus security/law enforcement agency, how the institution responds to incidents of crime, and the relationship of the campus security/law enforcement agency with local and state police. The institution must also outline its policies concerning access to academic buildings, residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses, and other facilities under its control. Crime prevention issues must be described, and students and employees must be encouraged to be responsible for their own and others’ safety. The institution must specifically outline its policy covering the possession, use, or sale of alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs and its policy regarding sex offenses.

The act also requires institutions to provide timely warnings to the campus community if any of the six specified crimes (murder; forcible or nonforcible sex offenses, including rape; robbery; aggravated assault; burglary; and motor vehicle theft) are reported to either the local police or campus security/law enforcement and are considered a potential threat to students and employees.

The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) has worked closely with the Department of Education to provide guidance in the drafting of the regulations and to provide training on Clery Act compliance to campus public safety leaders.

Open Campus Police (Security) Logs

One of the dilemmas previously facing a campus law enforcement agency was the release of crime information that it obtained. State laws typically require police to disclose general information about a crime to the public. However, the Buckley Amendment barred campus law enforcement agencies from releasing daily logs or arrest information. This led to lawsuits by student organizations demanding such information under the state release-of-information laws. This effectively placed campus law enforcement officials in the middle. On the one hand, Department of Education officials were demanding that no release be made on penalty of losing federal student aid, and on the other, campus law enforcement officials were being sued for not releasing the information.

This matter was officially resolved with an exception to the release of information. Campus law enforcement officials are allowed to follow the state administrative rules and/or laws covering the release of information. Administrators should become familiar with their state laws and formulate policies covering campus law enforcement release of crime information.

In addition to the hate crime amendments, the Higher Education Opportunities Act of 2008 made a number of other key changes to the Clery Act. These include a new requirement for campuses to provide a statement of current campus policies regarding immediate emergency response and evacuation procedures, including the use of electronic or cellular communication. These polices must include procedures for campuses to immediately notify the campus community upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health and safety of students or staff occurring on the campus. The 2008 amendments also include new fire safety reporting requirements. Each institution that maintains on-campus student housing facilities shall annually publish a fire safety report that includes fire safety practices and standards, including a description of each fire safety system and the number of fire drills held the previous year. The report also must include statistics on the number of fires, causes, injuries, deaths and property damage for fires occurring in on-campus student housing. Campuses must also maintain a fire log that records any fire that occurs in on-campus student housing. An annual report must be made to the campus community on the fires recorded in the fire log. It may be included as part of the annual fire safety report.

The 2008 amendment also mandates that institutions with on-campus housing create a new missing student policy. Any institution that provides student housing must include in its annual security report a statement of policy regarding missing student notification procedures for students who reside in on-campus housing facilities.

Regulations to implement these changes are expected to be promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education and adopted in late 2009 or early 2010.

It is advisable for campus security officials to monitor legislative activity and changes in the Clery Act. The U.S. Department of Education can provide guidance changes to the law and regulation. IACLEA and Security On Campus closely monitor new developments concerning the Clery Act and are a good resource for campus safety officials.

Crime Prevention


Campus crime prevention is defined as “the anticipation, recognition and appraisal of a crime risk and the initiation of some action to remove or reduce it.”5 Crime prevention is a proactive strategy designed to eliminate or minimize criminal opportunities before a crime actually occurs.

To address safety concerns, many campus security/law enforcement agencies have at least one person dedicated full time to crime prevention. The Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies established by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., recommend that the law enforcement agency’s crime prevention function provide for the following:

  • Targeting programs by crime type and geographic area on the basis of an analysis of local crime data
  • Targeting programs to address community perceptions or misperceptions of crime
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of crime prevention programs6

To do this, the campus security/law enforcement agency must develop close ties with the local police and with students, staff, and faculty. Crime prevention should be perceived not as the responsibility of campus law enforcement, but as the responsibility of all those working or attending classes at a campus. Law enforcement’s responsibility should be to coordinate various programs. A safety-conscious campus is one that involves everyone and addresses safety issues in a proactive rather than a reactive way.

Personal Safety

The campus security/law enforcement agency must set the tone for the institution. The agency must make it known that it will not tolerate sexual abuse or any act of violence on campus. This must be backed up with strong sanctions against those committing acts of violence. Both the criminal justice system and the university judicial system should take a stand of zero tolerance to violence.

The best way for individuals on campus to avoid becoming victimized is to be alert to the surroundings. Other suggestions are as follows:

  • Students should study in areas where there are other people and not be isolated.
  • In residence halls, students should always lock their doors and report any unauthorized persons on the floor.
  • Individuals should walk with confidence and, when possible, not alone.
  • Individuals should walk in the middle of the sidewalk, facing traffic and away from buildings, parked cars, and bushes.
  • When driving, individuals should always lock their doors and avoid parking in deserted areas.
  • Drivers should look inside the car before entering it.
  • If followed, drivers should go to the nearest police station or firehouse or to an open gas station.

Many sexual assault incidents are acquaintance or date rapes. The following advice will help students in dealing with social situations:

  • Arrange to meet a first-time date in a public place, or go out with a group.
  • When first meeting someone new, do not leave with him or her, but go home with people you know, especially if either of you have been drinking alcohol. A date can be arranged later.
  • Abstain from or limit alcohol consumption.
  • Trust your instincts. If the person or the situation makes you uncomfortable or scared, get away.
  • Set sexual and touching limits and stick to them. Be assertive in communicating your feelings.

In sexual assault incidents, the assaulted student fears losing control. The student must be given the option to pursue the matter criminally or to simply file an anonymous report. Sexual assault advocates should be made available to the student if the student desires those services. The student should also have the option of seeking remedy through the college or university’s student conduct system.

The student should be encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible (i.e., before bathing and/or changing clothes). If there is no provision for payment of the medical examination, the examination should be paid for by the law enforcement agency, not the student. The campus law enforcement agency is required to make timely advisories to the campus and community of sexual assaults. This can be done through crime-alert bulletins, notification of the media with a press release or telephone call, advisory notices on various information bulletins, and use of the electronic mail system. What advice should be given to a student who asks, “What can I do to increase my chances of getting away or attracting help if I’m assaulted while walking after dark?”

One standard answer to this question is to never walk alone at night and to utilize the campus escort service. However, many students are not interested in that answer, because it restricts their ability to move around campus. To reduce vulnerability to assaults by strangers, many people have purchased personal security devices. Students should know the limitations of each device and then decide which will best serve their needs.

Before purchasing any personal security device, the student should consider the following:

  • Is the device easily accessible? For example, if the device is in the bottom of a purse, it will do little good if I am suddenly attacked.
  • Can the attacker use the device against me?
  • Will the device attract enough attention from others in the area to get me help?
  • Will the device frighten or disable the attacker?
  • Will it provide a “window of opportunity” to escape?
  • Once activated, will the device continue to operate without continued activation by me?

A variety of personal security devices are marketed to students. These include chemical deterrents, pressure-activated alarms, whistles, and noise alarms.

Chemical Deterrents. Chemical deterrents can provide some level of protection. When considering the purchase of a chemical deterrent, it is important to answer the above questions. Especially consider whether the device is easily accessible and whether it will disable or frighten the attacker. Some chemical deterrents have little effect on emotionally upset individuals. Chemical deterrents can also be taken away from the student and then used against him or her.

Pressure-Activated Alarms. Pressure-activated alarms are canisters that emit an ear-piercing noise designed to frighten off the attacker and/or attract attention. Because the device is under pressure, it has a time limit on use.

Whistles. Whistles are used to alert others in the area that an individual is having trouble and to summon help. The success of the whistle depends on the student’s ability to blow into it. The advantage of utilizing a whistle is the low cost and not having to worry about dead batteries.

Noise Alarms. Noise alarms are battery-operated devices that emit an alarm, generally over 100 dB. They are designed to continually operate when activated and both scare off the attacker and summon help.

Alarm devices are tools to help in defending students against attack. Of more importance is the student’s ability to be aware of his or her surroundings and maintain an avenue of escape.

Property Safety

A campus is the student’s home away from home. Theft of student property is one of the most frequent crimes on campuses. Programs such as Operation ID, Property Safety Awareness, and Campus Watch have been found to be valuable in addressing theft problems.

Operation ID is a nationwide crime prevention project designed to protect a person’s valuables. The program participant is assigned an identification number, and the number is then recorded at the campus security/law enforcement agency. The student is then encouraged to enter that ID number, usually with an engraver or invisible marking pen, on all valuables.

Once property has been marked and a list of all property recorded, Operation ID decals are placed on all doors and windows where entry can be made. If property is stolen, its ID number can be entered into the National Crime Information System computer.

Property Safety Awareness is a program that has been used by campuses in the past and may still be in use today. This is a program in which students are taught how to be smart with their property. This includes such advice as keeping valuables out of sight when they are not being used, recording serial numbers and model numbers for all purchased equipment, and reporting suspicious activity.

Campus Watch is similar to the Neighborhood Watch program. Campus Watch is a program that has been implemented by campuses in the past and may still be used today. The program is designed to acquaint students living together in a residence complex or building so that they can be the eyes and ears for each other. The program covers property safety, theft prevention, burglary prevention, tips for personal safety, safety patrols, self-defense, sexual assault prevention, education and investigation, and crime alert procedures. Monthly newsletters are part of this program, along with special crime bulletins when necessary. A security survey of the student’s residence is performed, and suggestions are given on how to live more safely. Participants are taught how to spot suspicious activity and who to call.

Campus Safety Issues


Institutions of higher education own millions of dollar’s worth of buildings, artwork, books, research projects, computers, laboratories, and research animals, to name only a few. Of even more value are the students, faculty, and staff who come to work or live on the campus.


The illumination of grounds, parking lots, and buildings is important in discouraging criminal activity. Although statistical data on the effectiveness of lighting is inconclusive, lighting does reduce the possibility that someone will be victimized. There are benefits other than personal safety. Lighting reduces vehicle and pedestrian accidents; illuminated intersections make persons assigned to traffic direction more visible; and illumination provides a friendlier environment, which should encourage increased social interaction.

At the very least, a college or university should notify students, faculty, and staff or supply them with maps showing the lighted walks on campus. At least annually security personnel should walk the grounds of the campus to identify areas that require new lighting or additional lighting. Many campus law enforcement agencies conduct this walking survey twice a year, once when plant material is in full bloom and again when plant foliage has dropped. Security/law enforcement officers should make special note of any burned-out or broken lights to ensure prompt replacement.

With additional lighting will come complaints of “light blight,” or too much illumination of the skyline. This can be reduced by installing downwardly directed lighting.

Emergency Telephones

The installation of emergency telephones on campus has proven to be useful. With cellular technology or the use of radio frequencies, emergency telephones can be installed anywhere, even in remote parking lot locations. These telephones are used for true emergencies, but in some institutions such use has been expanded to include requests for escorts, direction information, or car trouble.

Emergency telephones are generally installed along busy sidewalks and in parking lots. They should be marked in such a way as to make them clearly visible at night from a distance. Operation should be easy, accomplished either by simply picking up the receiver or by pushing a button. The call should be received on an emergency line (911 or other emergency line) so that immediate law enforcement response can occur.

Emergency telephones should be tested frequently, especially during inclement weather. They must also be accessible by persons with disabilities.

Environmental Design for Safety

Campus security/law enforcement agencies currently are being asked for input when new building construction occurs, plantings are installed, or parking lots are built. They provide input into the selection of locks, lighting, alarms, and the proper location of specific plantings.

It is important that the security/law enforcement agency form a partnership with campus planners and architects in this area. The purpose of this partnership is to improve safety on campus. The goal of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) is to prevent crime by designing a physical environment to positively influence behavior. This includes natural access control, natural surveillance, territoriality, and maintenance. Specific techniques include street and security lighting, landscaping, barriers, and target hardening.

Alarm Systems

As the call goes out to provide a safer campus environment, inevitably the subject turns to alarm systems. When addressing this issue, one basic question must be answered: Is the intent to scare away the intruder, or to catch the intruder in the act of a criminal offense?

An audible alarm at the location will certainly get the attention of an intruder, but if someone is not in the area to respond, the possibility of apprehending the intruder is slight. The use of an audible alarm on fire doors and exit-only doors is common at many institutions.

There are a wide variety of silent alarms on the market. Examples include panic buttons, magnetic switches on doors and windows, metallic foil tape on windows, infrared beam devices, ultrasonic alarms, and pressure pads, just to name a few.

As with the emergency telephones, frequent checks of the alarm system are a must to ensure its integrity.

Alarm Response Plan

Most campus security/law enforcement agencies respond to a variety of silent or audible alarms. Administrators must review the alarm response policy to ensure the greatest degree of safety to officers responding to the alarm and to persons on the way to and at the scene of the alarm. The goal, when responding to an alarm, is to demonstrate concern for the safety of all persons; to prevent the taking of hostages, should a robbery be taking place; and to improve the chances of apprehending the offender.

At least two patrol units should be dispatched to an alarm. If the alarm is at night in an unoccupied building, then the first responding unit to arrive should cover the front and one side of the building. The next arriving unit should cover the building comer opposite that covered by the first unit. It should be the responsibility of the first responding unit to direct the backup units to positions where routes of escape can be effectively blocked.

When the exterior is secured, the interior of the building can be searched. When an alarm occurs during the daylight hours and persons are inside the building, responding officers must use extra caution to ensure the safety of persons at the scene. Officers should get to know key personnel in each building by sight.

There is nothing to prevent a robber from posing as a building or department supervisor. When responding to a silent daytime alarm, officers should park their vehicles out of sight. Some agencies have procedures in which they call the location and receive a coded message that indicates whether a robbery is in fact occurring. If a robbery has occurred, the officers at the scene should secure the area to keep evidence from being destroyed.

The area should be locked down to keep people from entering the affected area, and persons in the affected area should be advised to not touch anything. Officers should obtain the necessary physical and vehicle descriptions and direction of travel, if known. This information should be immediately broadcast to other officers and neighboring law enforcement agencies. A list should be made of all witnesses to the robbery and statements obtained from each before they are allowed to leave. Witnesses should be encouraged not to converse with one another about the crime until after they have been interviewed.


There are three components to a keying system: design of the system, implementation of the system, and control of the system. These three components are often handled by the same organization, although this is not necessary.

The design of the system lays the foundation for all future security decisions. The design must start with an understanding of the customer’s needs and should include such items as an understanding of the level of security desired, the organizational levels and access needs, the temporal patterns of the occupants, and the physical layout of the facilities. It should also include an understanding of available technology such as the traditional brass key system, mechanical pushbutton technology, card access, and others and could even include the more sophisticated approaches of personal identification.

The implementation process can be fairly straightforward once the design is completed. If a traditional keying approach is used, then appropriate hardware can be installed, with cylinders and keys set up to match occupants’ needs. Most often schools settle on one supplier for cylinders and keys so that the system is consistent across the campus. If card readers are chosen, then door and door frame preparation are necessary. If the card reader is to be centrally controlled, then additional accommodation must be made for networking the readers.

Key control, if handled improperly, can quickly become a nightmare. An effective key control system must be a top priority of the institution. Professional campus law enforcement organizations recommend that key control be the responsibility of the campus security or law enforcement agency, not of another area of facilities management.

Keys that allow entry into buildings should be a type that cannot be easily duplicated. High-security key blanks are available that will address this concern.

All keys must be signed for by the person in possession of them. The department head should also sign the key card as acknowledgment that he or she approves. An inventory of all keys should be completed once a year by all departments. Any missing keys should be immediately reported.

Keys should be marked, but not so that they are easily identified. Markings such as “SM” for submaster or “GM” for grand master are giveaways of the power of each.

The following references may be useful:

  • Door and Hardware Institute. “Master Keying – Part 1 & Part 2.” Tech Talk, 1973.
  • O’Shall, Don. Practical Masterkeying of Pin Tumbler Locks. Secaucus, New Jersey: Haines Publishing, 1984.

Several organizations also may be useful, including the following:

  • National Locksmith Association, 1533 Burgundy Parkway, Steamwood, Illinois 60107,
  • Associated Locksmiths of America, 3003 Live Oak Street, Dallas, Texas 75204,
  • International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, 342 North Main Street, West Hartford, CT 06117,

Fire Protection


Officers should have a working knowledge of portable fire extinguishers and how they function. They should know the location of all standpipe hose stations, fire alarm panels, and electrical panels. They should also know or have access to a list of all locations on campus that house hazardous materials. Any officer who responds to a fire in which hazardous materials are burning could easily walk into a death trap unless he or she is properly trained.

Officers should work closely with those officials assigned to maintenance of the fire alarm system. All fire alarms should be tested frequently. Officers should also know the general evacuation plans for each building and then participate in fire drills for each building. This should be coordinated with the building supervisor if the institution has such a system.

It is important to have a written plan outlining the role of various departments during a fire and to review this plan on an annual basis. The plan should cover at least the following:

  • A list of available personnel and equipment resources, external resources from other law enforcement agencies, officials who should be contacted immediately, and media relations information
  • Procedures for notifying the fire department, which should be advised regarding the type of fire, the extent of fire loss at the time, any occupants believed to be in the building, any hazardous material at the scene, and the color of the flame
  • Observation of wind direction and, if possible, staying on the upwind side
  • Establishment of a control post to coordinate all communications
  • Evacuation plans (if possible, without harm to officers or when ordered by fire personnel) to calmly, and in an orderly manner, remove persons from the building. Officers should not attempt to enter a building if any hazardous materials are involved.
  • Establishment of an outer and inner perimeter to provide security to the scene and crowd control of the affected area. It is important that the outer perimeter be far enough from the fire to prevent injury if the building should collapse or an explosion occur.
  • Assignment of someone to guard the fire equipment and to monitor the area to prevent looting and other criminal activity
  • Direction of all routine traffic from the fire scene
  • Provision of assistance to other emergency services that come to the fire scene
  • Photographing and/or video taping of the fire scene, including the crowd, if the fire is of suspicious origin
  • Maintenance of the inner perimeter after the fire is put out and until the fire investigation is complete
  • Provision of assistance to fire officials investigating the origin of the fire
  • Ensuring that all traffic routes have been returned to normal
  • Completion of all necessary reports of the incident

Campus Law Enforcement Professionalism


Much like their counterparts, the city police, campus law enforcement agencies are embracing the concept of professionalism. This continuing movement toward professionalism includes higher standards of admission; adherence to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics; academy training; successful completion of a field officer program; mandatory in-service training; and adoption of detailed rules, regulations, policies, and procedures. As part of this movement toward professionalism, law enforcement and security agencies are adhering to established standards of competence.

National Accreditation

Law enforcement accreditation began in 1979, when four organizations – the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum – worked together to create the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). In late 1983, CALEA began accepting applications from law enforcement agencies. Currently more than 400 law enforcement agencies, including campus law enforcement agencies, are accredited.

Law enforcement accreditation was created as a voluntary process through which a law enforcement agency could seek to verify its conformance to universally developed and tested standards. The four major goals developed for the accreditation process were as follows:

  1. Increase the capability of law enforcement agencies to prevent and control crime.
  2. Enhance agency effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of law enforcement services.
  3. Improve cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and with other components of the criminal justice system.
  4. Increase citizen and employee confidence in goals, policies, and practices of the agency.

Some standards are mandatory; others are optional. The standards also relate to the size of the agency. In other words, some standards may be mandatory for a large agency but may be optional or not applicable for a small agency. Many of the standards require written policies. An example of a mandatory standard for all agencies that requires a written policy is use of force.

IACLEA ( developed its own accreditation program for campus public safety agencies with initial seed funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office). IACLEA’s program is overseen by an Accreditation Commission and is managed by an accreditation manager. It has adopted some of the CALEA standards for law enforcement as well as additional standards that are unique to campus public safety agencies.

There is a great deal of controversy among law enforcement agencies concerning accreditation. Advocates believe that standardization of police departments across the nation is currently the most effective means for continuing the professionalism process. They believe that a system of self-governance is better than regulations thrust on them by the courts or legislature. Also, advocates point out that the accreditation process clearly demonstrates to an agency what is not acceptable behavior.

Those opposed to accreditation point to the cost and the amount of time required to complete the process. They believe the benefits do not outweigh the cost in personnel to achieve it. Others believe the standards are too general and permit accredited agencies to continue to have incompetent police officers on the street.



The field of campus security will continue to undergo changes in the future. Security organizations will be called on to be more involved in issues involving personal safety, environmental design for safety, building security systems, and parking lot/grounds safety.

To meet these requests, security and campus law enforcement officials will need to be better educated and trained. An example of change toward a more professional environment in campus security/law enforcement can be found in the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, which has begun a study to develop standards for campus law enforcement/security organizations.

The challenges facing campus security and law enforcement are many, but the field is open to those who want to develop an organization that is highly skilled and professional.



1. Campus Crime: Legal, Social and Policy Perspectives, second edition, Bonnie S. Fisher and John J. Sloan III, pp. 284-285.

2. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Special Report, Campus Law Enforcement, 2004-05, released in February 2008.

3. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 1993. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1994.

4. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reporting: National Incident-Based Reporting System. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1988.

5. IACLEA pamphlet, Recommended Crime Prevention and Campus Protection Practices for Colleges and Universities, April 1996.

6. Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies. Fairfax, Virginia: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., April 1994.

Additional Resource


Powell, John W., Michael S. Pander, and Robert C. Nielsen. Campus Security and Law Enforcement, second edition. Newton, Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heineman, 1994.

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