Security Officers Speak Out

Security Officers Speak Out

Five public safety directors share their insights on securing a campus and how current issues are shaping that responsibility.

FOLLOWING A PERIOD OF VIOLENT TRAGEDIES AT HIGHER ED INSTITUTIONS, it's easy to forget that public safety directors mainly handle everyday security concerns on and off their campuses. Five security officers share what affects their departments today and what they anticipate in the near future.

 

Drayton has been executive director/chief of the <b>University of Southern California</b>'s Department of Public Safety since 2006. He joined USC in 2005. Drayton has worked in campus law enforcement since 1979, having started off as a student police officer at the <b>University of Southwestern Louisiana</b>.

 

March is director of public safety for <b>The University of Maine</b>. A member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, March serves on the Crime Prevention and Victims Services Committees. He is also the association's regional vice chair of the University & College Police Section.

 

Matthews has been director of safety and security at <b>Butler Community College</b> (Kan.) since August 2007. He has 30 years of experience in city and county law enforcement and protective services in Kansas and Missouri, including six years in a protective services capacity contracted under the Department of Defense.

 

Schumann is director of security at the <b>College of Saint Benedict</b> (Minn.). He has held security positions at a number of Minnesota schools, including <b>St. John's University, Normandale Community College,</b> and <b>Concordia College</b>. He is an adjunct in the Criminal Justice Department at <b>St. Cloud State University</b>.

 

Stafford is chief of police at <b>The George Washington University</b> (D.C.). She has 24 years of experience in law enforcement and security, 19 of them on university campuses. She served as president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators in 2003-2004.

<b>Dolores A. Stafford</b>: Having a strong relationship with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has been instrumental to the GW Police Department's success. We have an MPD substation on our campus, and we encourage MPD officers to patrol the campus and spend time in the substation. We conduct joint patrols at various times throughout the year, and we respond to incidents together on a routine basis.

<b>Carey M. Drayton</b>: Our relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department has always been strong, since we derive our ability to police from them. We now conduct some sort of monthly training to practice coordination and integration in response to a variety of police situations, including an active shooter scenario.

'The notion that any police officer, with the power of arrest and the duty to protect, would not be equipped and trained with every tool possible to carry out that responsibility is unimaginable.' -Noel C. March, The University of Maine

<b>James E. Schumann</b>: My department has a very close working relationship with our local police, fire, and emergency response agencies. I meet on a monthly basis with the city administrator, the dean of students, and the chief of police. This meeting is to keep us all informed on issues between the college and the city and to discuss ways in which we can strengthen our relationship and improve our communications with our departments.

<b>Noel C. March</b>: We are investing in new relationships and higher levels of cooperation between our state, county, and local police. When we set out to prepare the campus for possible celebratory riots after an appearance by our NCAA Division I men's hockey team, we practiced together for crowd control and civil disturbance responses. We learned to work more closely together and appreciate how much we need to rely on each other in the event of an emergency.

<b>Marshall J. Matthews</b>: We assist in investigations and train together in critical incident exercises. Local law enforcement officers are regularly on our campuses, not only to assist in public safety but also with students and participants in various leadership programs.

<b>Drayton</b>: As a member of campus law enforcement, I have never agreed with not being armed. I have, however, worked on two campuses where the staff could not carry firearms. It is very limiting, what a security officer can respond to, even if we are not speaking about the incidents at <b>Virginia Tech</b> and <b>Northern Illinois</b>. Campus communities are not immune to robberies, gang violence, or other criminal acts involving weapons.

<b>March</b>: The notion that any police officer, with the power of arrest and the duty to protect, would not be equipped and trained with every tool possible to carry out that responsibility is unimaginable. Colleges and universities that direct that their police officers not be armed are exposed to far greater liability for "failure to protect" than schools that properly train and equip their police to the national standards for the profession.

<b>Matthews</b>: It is unfortunate that social violence has crossed the boundaries onto college campuses. However, in the 21st century, it is a reality. Campus police need to have the means to defend themselves and stakeholders when threatened with armed violence.

<b>Schumann</b>: I believe the decision needs to be made by the top administration of the institution, based on what their expectation of their security department is. Recent history has shown that the only way to stop a campus shooter is to have someone shoot him, or he shoots himself as other people with guns get near him. I believe that if we continue to have these issues with violence, the trend toward arming security and public safety departments on campuses will continue.

<b>Stafford</b>: I was part of a Special Review Task Force that worked on behalf of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to review various reports and to publish a white paper called "Overview of the Virginia Tech Tragedy and Implications for Campus Safety: The IACLEA Blueprint for Safer Campuses." It recommends that if the institution employs a full-service, sworn law enforcement agency, then the officers should have access to a range of use-of-force options, including lethal (firearms) and less-than-lethal (impact tools, chemical, and electronic control devices). Campus public safety personnel who are provided any defensive weapon should be trained to the standards required for public-sector law enforcement personnel within the political subdivision. Campus law enforcement or security personnel should meet the standards established for use of those weapons as determined by the state in which the community is located.

<b>Drayton</b>: Although I have been at this current position just slightly more than two years, the department has increased in size by 10 officers. Other budgetary adjustments have been in the form of equipment acquisition that creates a "force multiplier" effect when used with existing personnel.

<b>March</b>: The budget issue is as problematic as ever, perhaps even more so. We have been able to take advantage of funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to upgrade our radios and warning sirens.

<b>Matthews</b>: During my nine months in this position, security personnel and shift coverage has been increased. Patrol functions have been expanded so that officers are now trained not only to respond to incidents but also to lead investigations. The cost of increased personnel was addressed in the normal budget process.

<b>Schumann</b>: My budget has not increased in the past few years. I have been happy to maintain my current level of funding and service to the community. I have received some capital funding for card access and camera systems and will continue to submit capital requests for the coming years through our budget process.

<b>Stafford</b>: The GW Police Department has had steady growth over the past 10 years, to match institutional growth, and it continues to be innovative in developing programs for the community. The Violence Awareness and Mitigation Program was implemented last summer, in response to concerns from faculty and staff about what to do if an active shooter situation occurs on campus.

<b>Drayton</b>: Campus safety has improved dramatically in my nearly 30 years of working in this profession in a university environment. Unfortunately, the court system and laws fail to keep pace with the rapidly changing environment created by technology and student behavior. Examples that are easy to point out include stalking, social networking websites, cyberstalking, cell phone cameras, and internet use. It took several years and many cases for the criminal justice system to understand that some deviant student behavior should actually be considered a crime, and then for laws to catch up on how to handle the advances in technology. At our campus, we do a great job with communicating and interacting with students and the professionals hired to facilitate their maturation. Although the problems exist, it seems that the communication has helped with reducing the most severe cases from occurring.

<b>March</b>: The presence of excessive alcohol consumption in nonstranger sexual assaults is all too common. Our department "team teaches" through the Safe Campus Project, a program that promotes education and advocacy regarding violence against women. We teach personal safety and self-defense as well. We teach about alcohol awareness with members of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Office.

<b>Matthews</b>: As is often the case, sexual assault cases are related to underage drinking. At our college, sexual assault awareness programs are offered to the student body. Victims of sexual assault receive comprehensive counseling services. Students in violation of alcohol or drug policies attend mandatory substance abuse education courses.

'Patrol functions have been expanded so that officers are now trained not only to respond to incidents but also to lead investigations.' -Marshall J. Matthews, Butler Community College

<b>Schumann</b>: While the numbers of alcohol incidents and sexual assaults that occur on our campuses have not been reduced, I do think we have become much better at identifying and dealing with them. I believe we have increased the number of victims who report a sexual assault, and have done a much better job of reporting alcohol abuse by students. We are more effective in dealing with these problems, but due to the drinking culture of incoming freshmen on most of our campuses, we will continue to face this ongoing problem.

<b>Stafford</b>: I don't know that campus safety teams can "reduce" the number of incidents of alcohol abuse or sexual assaults on campus. They are in a better position to ensure that they have a proper response to assist people in these situations. The GW Police Department has a detailed procedure for assessing the condition of students who are identified as intoxicated. I started the Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation (SACC) Team when I came to GW in 1992. We have worked hard to maintain a team of trained professionals who are on call 24/365 to respond to and assist a survivor of a sexual assault.

<b>Drayton</b>: Addressing the real and perceived increase of foreign and domestic terrorism as well as increases in violence will be the focus of the future.

<b>March</b>: I'd have to say funding, and the anticipated scarcity of it. But the good news is this: Campus public safety responsibilities are receiving more attention, support, and enhanced professionalism than ever. And that means a higher quality of service and a safer campus.

<b>Matthews</b>: The increased number of students with mental health problems must be addressed by a more comprehensive working relationship with college mental health services. Additional training for and awareness of these issues will enable campus safety teams to be flexible and forward thinking in responding to and resolving these problems.

<b>Schumann</b>: The greatest challenges are going to be the increased violence in our society, the expanding alcohol culture among young adults, and the changing demographics of our campuses. Also, the changing culture of students expecting more from higher ed institutions will be very challenging for security and public safety.

<b>Stafford</b>: The biggest challenge is that students are coming to college with more serious problems, such as anger management issues and addictions. The caseload for the Police Department continues to increase each year, and the increases in staffing levels cannot keep pace with the increased number and complexity of problems that colleges are facing with their students. We need to streamline the tasks that we are requiring of our officers. Finally, we need to be nimble and flexible in our approach to developing solutions to solve complex problems.


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