Should COLLEGE CAMPUS Safety OFFICERS BE ARMED? Initial in a series of two articles.

The greater education system in the United States encompasses conventional four year universities, junior or community colleges, small religious oriented colleges, and a wide range of trade or technical colleges. Every single year more than 20 million students physically attend classes at a college or university campus at one particular of the a lot more than 7,000 institutions of greater finding out in the United States. Moreover, each and every year millions of non-students, alumni, and members of the general public, attend a wide array of events at college and university campuses across the country.

Producing and making certain a protected environment on college campuses is crucial in fostering a healthier learning environment. Although it is widely recognized that campus security and security is an crucial aspect of post secondary education, many colleges have traditionally relied upon unarmed “Campus Safety Officers,” alternatively of armed campus police officers. Higher profile reports of crimes committed on college campuses, such as the slaying of 32 people at Virginia Tech University in 2007, have triggered some to question the security of college campuses that do not have armed security or police officers. This write-up examines crime and security on college campuses and discusses the positive aspects and disadvantages of obtaining armed safety or police officers on campus.

Safety on college campuses

Since 1990 The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act has necessary all colleges that participate in federal student help programs to report specified crime information on a yearly basis. Although crime statistics gathered under this federal statute are useful sociologists, criminologists, and other researchers who study crime statistics are correct when they point out that evaluating crime statistics is complicated by many factors. Raw statistics with out proper analysis can be misleading for a multitude of motives. In several instances, crimes occurring on college campuses may not be reported to anybody at all or they could be reported to nearby police alternatively of campus security or safety departments. Some colleges may possibly not have sufficient institutional structures in location to accurately collect crime information and there may possibly be reluctance by some schools to completely collect crime data for worry that it will give the school a negative image. Whilst not widespread, there have been colleges and universities that have been fined for failure to comply with the Clery Act. As skewed and incomplete as Clery Act crime statistics might be, the crime statistics disclosure requirement can be helpful in evaluating the safety of a particular college or university.

Even though high profile crimes frequently place campus safety in the media spotlight, shootings, murders, and significant particular person-to-individual crimes – although they do happen, are not common. Interestingly, although some campus crime can be attributed to criminal intruders or mentally deranged men and women coming onto campus, the vast majority of campus crime involve students as both perpetrators and victims. When compared to the general population, study overwhelmingly shows college campuses are one of the safest places to be.

Armed or unarmed safety?

Even though all available study clearly shows that college campuses are safe in comparison to the neighborhood as a entire, campus safety is a needed feature of postsecondary education and virtually each and every college campus has some type of “safety” personnel. Some institutions employ sworn and armed law enforcement officers who have full arrest powers granted by a state or local government. Other institutions employ sworn officers but do not arm them with firearms and a lot of colleges use non-sworn officers who are often equipped with pepper spray or Tasers but in other cases are totally unarmed.

Whether or not to have armed officers on college campuses can be “an emotional concern” for numerous folks. Some college administrators just do not see a need to have to arm their officers with firearms. They point to the relative security of college campuses and point out that their officers are initial and foremost “security officers” who are mostly involved with building lockups, parking enforcement, essential handle, lost and discovered, individual security escorts, Haz-Mat management, fire and crime prevention education, and assorted public service oriented operate. Many institutions with non-sworn and unarmed officers believe that the presence of officers with a gun belt detracts from the educational environment and tends to make officers much less approachable.

In instances of an active shooter circumstance, proponents of unarmed safety point out that as tragic as these occurrences are, they take place very infrequently and statistically will never ever occur on most campuses. If the rare active shooter incident have been to happen, these institutions rely on a response from local law enforcement which presumably has the education, knowledge, and firearms needed to address the threat. Colleges that rely upon unarmed campus safety personnel usually point out, and rightly so, that there is no empirical proof that suicidal shooters are deterred from attacks on college campuses by armed security personnel.

In addition, obtaining armed safety requires normal training and coaching charges funds. There is also improved legal liability that comes with employing armed security personnel. Whilst negligence tort actions for inadequate safety are rising regardless of no matter whether the security personnel are armed, there is normally far less legal liability connected with unarmed safety personnel than armed safety personnel.

Role of security and safety personnel

Call them what you want – campus police officers, safety officers, security officers, or anything else each college or university must make a fundamental determination as to what they count on from their security and safety personnel. Safety and safety functions on many campuses have just progressively “morphed” or evolved more than the years as an alternative of resulting from a systematic and nicely vetted strategy for campus security and safety. Several administrators do not recurrently ask the fundamental question: Precisely what do we anticipate from our security and safety personnel? If the school desires their personnel to focus on creating access manage, safety escort services, fire and crime prevention, parking enforcement, automobile jumpstarts, escorting guests about campus and related service oriented work, there is probably no need for their officers to be armed with a firearm. Many colleges and universities across the United States have selected this route and have been able to maintain safe and safe campuses.

On the other hand, if the school expects their personnel to carry out a a lot more classic law enforcement role (i.e., confront violators suspected of committing crimes, conduct undercover investigations, intervene in physical altercations or active shooter conditions), then the college has an obligation to give their officers the tools necessary to do their job. “Tools” contain much less lethal “force multipliers” like pepper spray, batons, and Taser, and it also signifies firearms.

If the decision is created to arm officers with firearms or even much less lethal weapons, college administrators should recognize the elevated obligations and responsibilities that come with such a choice, namely hiring, policy and process, coaching, and supervision.

This report continued in the second article under the identical title.

George W. Babnick, JD is a 32 year law enforcement veteran with an comprehensive background in coaching, school policing, criminal and administrative investigations, supervision and management, and criminal forensics. He currently serves as a Captain in the Portland, Oregon Police Bureau where he manages the Forensic Proof Division. He holds criminal justice degrees from Portland Neighborhood College and Portland State University and a law degree from Northwestern California University School of Law, Sacramento, California. He is a member of ASIS (American Society of Industrial Safety), the Western Society of Criminology, the IAI (International Association of Identification), and the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police). He is the author of articles on law enforcement and safety, private investigations, supervision and management, and danger management related to these subjects. He can be reached at: Nothing in any article is intended to or need to be construed as legal tips. Persons needing legal advice need to seek the counsel of an lawyer.

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