HD36 - Security on Virginia's Campuses

  • Published: 1994
  • Author: State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and Advisory Committee for Campus Security
  • Enabling Authority: House Joint Resolution 513 (Regular Session, 1993)

Executive Summary:
House Joint Resolution 513, sponsored by Delegates Purkey, Croshaw, Rhodes, Rollison, and Senator C. A. Holland, directed the Council of Higher Education to study campus security enhancement at Virginia's pubic institutions of higher education. An advisory committee with representatives from the Council, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and campus police departments directed the study. In order to better understand the range of campus environments and because the committee wished to present an in-depth portrait of policing at higher education institutions across Virginia, the committee selected fourteen public and private institutions for intensive analysis.

Overall, campus security and police departments offer a wide range of services to students in Virginia. Those institutions with police (as opposed to security) departments offer students many of the services of a municipal police department. In addition, the campus police and security departments provide services unique to a campus environment, such as escort services, emergency phones, crime-prevention programs, Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training, bicycle patrols, residence-hall security, and control of access to the campus. To control campus crime, campus police and security departments coordinate their efforts with students, administrators, and local police.

Police and security personnel believe that their presence and visibility on campus deter crime but feel constrained by a lack of resources. The need to patrol and conduct other police functions limits the number of programs campus police and security departments can offer, such as crime-prevention programs. Given the current climate of limited resources, institutional security is a service requiring continuous evaluation.

A summary of the findings and recommendations resulting from the study follows.

1. Most of the police and security departments in the study cited a need for additional security personnel to meet the needs of their campus.

Recommendation: Campuses should work with the Department of Criminal Justice Services to conduct a workload analysis of the institutional police and security departments that emphasizes more effective use of existing resources.

2. While some institutions have formal written agreements with police in local jurisdictions. many do not. Clarifying working relationships can assist both campus police departments and local police by delineating authority and roles.

Recommendation: Institutional police and security departments should continue to work with the Department of Criminal Justice Services to implement formal agreements between localities and institutions.

3. When a crime is reported on campus, some security and police departments use minimum measures -- e.g., weekly notices in student newspapers -- to notify the community. Other campuses employ extensive notification procedures, e.g., posting flyers in heavily traveled locations, distributing flyers to every residence hall room, electronic mail, and video messages.

Recommendation: Campus administrators should review their methods of notifying the community when a crime occurs and use the most complete, accurate, and timely methods that are feasible for their campus.

4. Many institutions have police and security personnel trained in the Department of Criminal Justice Services' Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) program. However, the police and security departments are not always involved in the reviews of plans for new buildings or for building renovations.

Recommendation: Every institution should include its campus security or police department early in the process of reviewing building plans to ensure that adequate attention has been given to design characteristics that promote crime prevention.

5. Campus police and security departments employ a variety of methods to maintain security. The methods differ widely in cost and in effectiveness.

Recommendation: Institutions should continue to search for cost-effective and efficient methods of maintaining campus security. Examples include the use of video equipment, computerized card-key access systems tied to individual ID cards, community policing, and electronic surveillance.

6. The policy manuals of the campus police and security departments describe their work on campus. Some departments have extensively developed policies; others have less well-defined ones.

Recommendation: The Department of Criminal Justice Services should undertake an analysis of the policy manuals of the campus police and security departments to verify that the manuals accurately describe the depanments' roles, characteristics, training, functions, and authority, as determined by this study.