Campus Security

A bill (S. 2084) introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to help colleges and universities improve campus safety in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is currently pending before the full Senate. The bill would establish a matching grant program to help schools purchase and install surveillance equipment and establish hotlines for reporting potentially dangerous students and situations. Grant money could also be used to secure school facilities.




The SERAPH Research Team, consisting of education and law enforcement experts have discovered seven reasons, which create unsafe college campuses.

The SERAPH Research Team provides a bi-yearly school safety report for Congress and in 2006 provided an assessment of the “The Virginia Tech Review Panel Report”.

1. Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, police departments across the United States have been training in “active shooter” response. This has been a well-established practice for use in public [K-12] schools.

However, our survey of colleges and universities security directors and police chiefs shows that few have had this training. Two reasons were given for this, the first was the cost, administrators did not want to pay for the training and second administrators barred campus security / police administrators from seeking out the training because they did not want a “militaristic campus atmosphere”.

2. College Administrators have no training in security or police operations and as a result micromanage security operations on their campuses. This is problematic because of the obvious delay it causes in response time. In addition, when a college or university has a police department micromanagement by administrators can violate state law regarding obstruction of justice.

3. A proper security audit is vitally important to campus security. However, our survey of security directors / police chiefs indicates that most college administrators will not allow these assessments to be done. Two reasons for this refusal is the fear of liability exposure and the chance that the audit would require changes in management systems.

4. Threat assessment as a science has existed in the United States since the early 1940s. Predication and prevention of violence is a critical aspect of campus security and one that in SERAPH’s experience is seriously lacking on higher education campuses. All Resident Assistants, security / police and department administrators should be trained to identify violent behavior in students, staff and visitors.

A lack of systematic monitoring of people on campus contributes to crime.

5. An emergency plan is only as good as the data in it and the ability of key personnel to use it effectively.

Training is important for the effective management of an emergency by key personnel. You cannot ask untrained people to do what trained people do.

SERAPH Research Team

Laura Collins, SERAPH


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