Campus Security – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Proper planning prevents poor performance when designing the scope and scheme of security countermeasures. This is the basic rule of the “5P’s”. Yet, it’s just a beginning. A guide to get moving in determined proactive directions. On a school and college campuses, this means a multi-task approach to productive community interaction. People, places and property interface in a cooperation effort of reducing opportunities for criminal activity. The synergistic actions of connectivity foster a higher probability of more effective safety and security. Yet, there is an illusion. It’s the simplistic notion that all the people in a given setting will actually work together. Or, really practice “neighborhood watch”, implement defensive tactics, and report suspicious persons. Planning involves time, talk and tactics. The tools, methodology and techniques implemented are critical to the social infrastructure of the campus environment. However, people suffer misconceptions about such issues. Resistance to restrictions is not untypical.

Motivating the members of the particular setting is a significant organizational challenge. Various cliques, factions and pecking orders pervade the common sense precautions of communal security. Many are naïve, foolish and harbor illusions about the nature of criminality. Others, like young students, are often immature and unable to recognize the early warnings of threats to personal safety. Having lived sheltered lives, they’re not prepared to deal with the real world of prowlers, perpetrators and predators. Still, some people won’t take protective measures seriously. They reside in the small world that bad things won’t happen to them. At the same time, others will ignore the safeguards in frequent defiance of the rules. Rebellious contingents oppose restrictions. Then you have those in the ranks of the “elite self-centeredness” of academia. We sometimes call them faculty. Although, they could represent other community groups. And, with them as well as others, the concept of “security” is viewed as some “working class” annoyance. So, planning campus protection is a challenging endeavor of fostering productive acquiescence. Issues of public safety and security cannot be intimidated by the prideful arrogance of privileged groups or persons. Nor can it be stifled by incompetence, misconception or ignorance.

Each campus situation is unique. But, regardless of how special the school thinks it is, administrative authority must place full faith, resources and power in its protective services. And, these members of the staff have to be competent to do the. Well-trained, effectively financed, equipped and staffed, these personnel must ensure, to the extent possible, effective crime prevention strategies. Police or security officers must know they have the support to carry out active safeguards. Defensive fortifications to “shield and secure” the environs, entail degrees of flexibility, adaptability and common sense. In addition, recognizing attendant needs requires the development of specific goals and objectives. A safety and security mission plan has to be developed. These initialize the security process in the gathering of relevant data to ensure a proper methodology. The approach, appraisal and initiation of corrective procedures identify specific courses of actions, as well as alternative options and solutions. Security planning is a comprehensive long-range process. It doesn’t occur over night and it never ends. The capacity to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the locale’s security posture invites the necessity of talented expertise.

To reduce criminal opportunities and maximize delivery of effective preventive measures, law enforcement services must be a priority. Campus police forces should have full authority to act in the best interests of protecting the school’s population, the visiting public and property assets. It cannot be micromanaged by anxious, meddling and over-bearing administrators. Full disclosure of crime statistics, adverse incidents and inappropriate behavior has to be openly available to the public. To this end, proper planning includes allowing police services to implement a full range of protective measures without bureaucratic obstructions, cover-ups or hiding embarrassing events. As such, in some instances, it may become necessary to remove the police forces from the school’s control. In other words, to ensure a higher level of accountability, reduce academic “politicizing” of policing, and increase resources, security services may need to be contracted out to state or local law enforcement agencies. This could amplify proper levels of enforcement, order maintenance necessities, as well as lawful early intervention into problem areas.

Yet, for the most part, school, college and university police services work extremely hard to safeguard the campus setting. In most states, at public institutions, campus policing operates in a manner similar to any other law enforcement agency. Like their counterparts in the local town or county, many campus law enforcement agencies strive for enhanced professional development. And, while national statistics generally show that campuses are fairly safe and secure, the range of criminal behavior is always highly probable. The potential for violence is regularly present. From substance abuse, theft and burglaries, to sexual batteries and robberies, school campuses reflect the proclivities of human nature. Campuses are a collection of many personalities that come from many different places. People, places and property come together into a “melting pot” of ideologies, inclinations and personal needs. Campus communities are composed of persons from all kinds of backgrounds. Predictability of violent behavior is a nebulous notion with no scientific support. So, planning for various contingencies becomes a necessity. Vigilance is critical. Anticipation of threats is vital.

Leadership in the provision of police services requires adherence to proper professional practices. Instead of the pretentiousness of academic privilege, consistent devotion to competent services remains essential. To this end, we must recognize that no system of security is foolproof. Criminals can find a way to circumvent our best efforts. But, at the same time, the objective is to reduce the opportunities for criminal activity. This means increasing the risks of apprehension by “hardening the target”, whether people, places or property. You ensure ever-expanding rings of protective practices around those to be protected. And, you root out the problems as quickly as possible. Interdiction must be sure, swift and certain. Disruptive persons, hazardous situations and dangerous conditions must be handled without hesitation, pause or fear of not being “politically correct”. Early warning signs cannot be ignored. Since criminal behavior is always premeditated, signs and symptoms emerge frequently before an act occurs. These have to be anticipated, recognized and responded to as soon as possible. And, in the process, once the action plan has begun, meddling staff and faculty have to stand back and let the police and criminal justice system do what their trained for.

Leadership is crucial to effective, efficient and competent planning processes. Managers are one thing, but leaders are quite another. School administrators have to assume leadership responsibility for campus safety and security. The management and leadership are entirely different aspects of individual’s personality. This is especially true in the field of law enforcement. And, it’s imperative when it comes to issues of safety and security. Breaches in security, failures of countermeasures and lack of community support usually follow a trail to the top of the organizational hierarchy. So, in terms of preventive measures, leaders must be allowed to lead. And, in so doing, they must be provided the opportunities to be decisive, action oriented and allowed to implement a full range of safeguards.

Some people know what they’re doing and some don’t. Incompetence pervades every organization, from the classroom to the campus operations. We have to allow those with the expertise to do their jobs. And, it goes without saying, you get what you pay for. If you want professional level of services, then, you’ve got to fund it. At the same time, while equipment and materials are critical, the right personnel are crucial to any measure of success. Gadgets and gizmos can be seen an easy quick fix to any problem. But, people, places and things have to work together. And, people are the important ingredient to solving critical issues of safety and security. Preventive measures and associated security strategies involve community partnerships. Interactivity between local, state and federal agencies is necessary to the sharing of proactive planning contingencies. To this process, a security management team should focus on a continual system of threat analysis. Effective campus security relies upon a heightened sense of consciousness, on the part of campus members. The interactivity of campus membership should be alert to early warning signs of potentially threatening behaviors. This can include issues of personal safety, as well as theft of property or abuse of campus resources.

Appropriate preparation is not something that rests solely on the security services or police operations. From threat assessments to security and police training, protective services should be a school priority. Everyone has a part to play. From which, should flow the necessity of ensuring corrective actions to enhance the security profile of the campus environment. Increased patrols, informational programs, and facility infrastructure inspections, all merge into a positive process of probable risk preclusion. In the event of a crisis, management teams should know what to do. And, they should do it decisively, without hesitation or anxious inability. Early warning systems should be activated immediately. Protective forces must move into action quickly with the necessary resources at hand. All this boils down to the fact that, when it comes to campus security, proper planning prevents poor performance in an emergency.

Sources, reference data, additional resources available from author on request.