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Campus safety does not leave room for complacency

The Junior Community College Student Personnel Association of Texas convened in Houston, Texas on October 16, 2008.   I had the honor of being asked to participate on a panel discussion regarding campus security.    The clear message I conveyed to the audience is that the demand for due diligence regarding campus security, especially after the Virginia Tech incident, does not leave any room for complacency.   The critical mindset to guard against is "that won’t happen on my campus."   Sadly, it can happen on any campus.    Since the tragic death of Jeanne Clery at Lehigh University in 1986, both state and federal legislators have passed statutes and regulations to address this critical issue.   

The mandates emanating from every report regarding these tragedies clearly demands that administrators not only report crime but also implement security measures to minimize crime.     Struggling with budgetary constraints, in most instances, adding security personnel is typically not possible.   The alternative is to utilize technological support systems to augment security personnel.   The first step in any security assessment is to conduct a thorough environmental design study and determine what landscaping and structural changes need to be made to minimize crime.  

The wireless industry has numerous product applications to help with security demands.   Most commonly used are automated notification systems, which enable administrators to send out an alert via email, SMS text message, and updates to university web sites.   Also, safety experts agree that the texting alert system should be "just one part of comprehensive notification systems that can include sirens, loudspeakers, security cameras, website announcements and more," according to USA Today.

Regardless of the security any campus has, periodic tests of the system should be made to help identify any security factors that need upgrading or replacement.    Additionally, it is of utmost importance for each campus security director, if not already in place, to have a close collaborative working relationship with their local police agencies

For more information, the report I found to be the most comprehensive in addressing campus security is the National Association of Attorneys General (  – Task Force On School And Campus Safety (September 2007 Report and Recommendations).