THE MAGAZINE

A Campus Response to Crisis

By Gregory Richter

Additionally, other target hardening methods are employed by the university, including limiting points of access to campus buildings and requiring all visitors to check in at reception and display visitor identification badges while on campus property. Locks that can be engaged from the inside are present on all offices and classrooms. As part of the security program, interior classroom windows are required to have the window blinds open during classroom hours. This “always open” window rule allows staff and security to easily perform classroom safety checks. 

Security officers are required to patrol the buildings and grounds at differing times so that patrol times do not become routine or predictable. If a potential threat is identified by the CRT, other security methods may be employed to provide additional protection. For example, if a threat against a specific class or instructor is suspected, security might place a panic button alarm in the classroom, move the class meeting location to a room closer to security, or increase monitoring of the classroom or office by security or administration. Specific parking spaces in proximity to secure entrances and security escorts may also be made available to staff or students upon request.

AWARENESS

The CRT model also stresses threat awareness on campus. This is important in an educational environment where there are typically large groups of people in close or even semi-confined quarters such as a classrooms, auditoriums, and sporting events. The CRT is critical in helping students, staff, and faculty remain vigilant and provide an avenue to report any suspicious or threatening activity. It is important that the CRT and campus security foster a relationship with the students and campus staff that is open, approachable, and responsive. To do this, the CRT has developed a protocol for responding to reports of potential issues or problems. When a threat or suspicious activity is reported to the CRT or other safety authorities, the team will meet, address the issue, and develop a response or action plan. A CRT member will contact the reporting party to let him or her know that the complaint was taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. If possible, the reporting party is advised of the outcome of the investigation.

TRAINING

Every security incident has distinct elements. By training for different scenarios and meeting to discuss safety threats, the CRT can be more prepared to respond when a threat occurs. Each team trains a minimum of once each year with the campus director of safety and security. Examples of training topics include “CRT Concepts and Basic Procedures,” “Emergency Communication Methods,” and “Prevention and Response to Workplace and Campus Violence.” This training typically includes classroom lecture, scenario-based practical drills, discussion, and feedback. This training is documented and maintained by the university for review and Clery Act compliance purposes. 

In addition to this training, each individual campus CRT and its members are required to meet monthly for training and to discuss safety and security updates and issues. Meetings usually include training, dissemination of pertinent information, and discussion of potential safety issues or violations. The CRT meeting also provides a forum for members to share their specialized knowledge with other members such as proper radio procedures, hurricane and storm preparation, first aid skills, and communicating effectively with stressed or depressed individuals. Throughout the year, each CRT will also perform live training scenarios such as campus lockdowns, fire drills, bomb threats, and other emergency responses. Minutes are recorded at each meeting and are submitted to the director of safety and security so that proper documentation is maintained.  

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