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  • Writer's pictureDrew Neckar

Benchmarking Security program elements for non-residential college campuses

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

The measures used to secure small non-residential career and technical college campuses are necessarily different that those used to secure large public university systems, in this paper we seek to quantify what methods are currently in use within this sector.

When we discuss the security of Universities and College Campuses we often envision a proprietary Campus Police or Public Safety Department serving a traditional campus setting with ivy covered halls surrounding a tree lined quad and students walking between classes before retiring to their on-campus dormitories. While this setting does account for a large number of the institutions of higher learning in the United States, over one third of the campuses recognized by the US Department of Education are small commuter campuses with no residential facilities that provide career and technical education to student populations of less than 1,000.

These campuses are often located in business parks, strip malls, or high rises in urban settings and necessarily require security methods significantly different from those utilized at larger institutions. Very little has been published regarding this sector so in this paper we seek to identify current trends and potential best practices in providing for the safety and security of the nearly one million students that attend one of these campuses each year.

In order to establish an accurate picture of the current state of security staffing, systems usage, and security awareness training within this demographic a survey was conducted of sixty-seven for profit, non-profit proprietary, or publicly owned technical colleges or career college systems. This was accomplished via either direct contact with the institutions, review of publicly available materials regarding their safety and security programs, or visits to campuses in sixteen separate urban, suburban, and rural areas with varying threat profiles.


The majority of institutions, sixty seven percent, utilize uniformed and dedicated Security, Public Safety, or Campus Police personnel at all of the campuses within their system, while eighteen percent deployed uniformed personnel on an as needed basis at some of the campuses dependent on an assessment of the individual location’s risk, and sixteen percent of the intuitions did not utilize any dedicated safety and security personnel.

Of those intuitions that did provide uniformed and dedicated safety, security, or campus police at their campuses, most of their campus safety departments were made up of non-sworn campus Safety/Security Officers with only four percent of the departments utilizing a blend of sworn Campus Police Officers supplemented by non-sworn Safety/Security Officers. The organizations typically did not equip their Officers with firearms, with only five percent of the departments utilizing all armed personnel, and another ten percent reporting that they did utilize some armed Officers dependent on their role (Police vs. Security) and/or the established risk level of the location. For distributed campuses of this size, by far the most common approach to Security staffing was the utilization of a third-party contract security provider.

Of those institutions that do utilize Security, Public Safety, or Campus Police those personnel are typically on site for all hours that students, faculty, and staff are on campus, with only two percent of the institutions having Security, Public Safety, or Campus Police that are only present for select hours during the class day, typically during evening hours to provide security in outdoor parking areas.


These institutions control access to their facilities to varying degrees; with twenty percent allowing the general public full open access to their facility during all operating hours. Seventy one percent of the institutions limit access allowing only legitimate students, employees, and visitors to access the facility and force compliance by requiring all visitors to check-in at a centralized location upon arrival, while an additional five percent have polices in place to restrict access but do not require any type of visitor check-in. While a majority, ninety three percent, of institutions have policies in place requiring all students, employees, and legitimate visitors wear a photo ID on their person while on campus; only four percent, secure all access into their facility so that no one can enter without utilizing an access card.

To control access to their perimeter of their campus building(s) seventy four percent of the institutions were using some type of electronic locking or card access solution, while the remaining twenty six percent relied on use of keyed locks. To monitor and record the area around the facility, eighty two percent of the institutions had implemented some degree of video surveillance technology. The majority of these campuses, seventy-nine percent, utilized video surveillance both inside the campus and on exterior areas the remaining thirteen percent utilized video surveillance only inside the campus building(s). None of the institutions reviewed were currently utilizing any type of metal detection technology to screen students or staff as they entered the facility.


Almost all institutions in the sample group had methods for deploying security awareness and crime prevention training to students and employees, as the Jeanne Clery Act requires for all institutions accepting federal monies through Title IV (34 CFR 668.46). Thirty percent of institutions provided students with security awareness and crime prevention educational material only at their initial new student orientation, while twenty three percent also provide programming one time each year, and thirty three percent presented this subject to students multiple times throughout the year. Thirty two percent of institutions provided employees with security awareness and crime prevention educational material only at their initial new employee orientation, while twenty seven percent also provided programming one additional time each year, and twenty one percent presented this subject to employees at multiple times throughout the year.

Of those institutions that delivered security awareness and crime prevention education to their students and employees at least annually after orientation, these subjects were delivered either strictly through distance education or as a combination of distance and in person educational sessions. Sixty six percent of students and seventy percent of employees received additional security awareness and crime prevention training through a combination of distance education and in person educational sessions.


While any security program should be based primarily on implementing controls to mitigate the risks unique to a certain location or operations, the data collected shows us that a the following elements may be considered a baseline for the security program at non-residential career and technical college campus with fewer than 1,000 students. Non-sworn and unarmed Security Officer/Public Safety personnel staffed at each campus within the system during all operating hours. Photo ID policy requiring all students, employees, and visitors be identified and allowing them to access facility via an access control system at all entry points except a single visitor reception entrance. Video surveillance technology deployed both inside and on the exterior of the facility. Security awareness and crime prevention training delivered to students and employees at initial orientation and at least once annually.

In addition to those areas studied in this survey other baseline controls that have been commonly implemented consist of a documented procedure for response to an active shooter incident including a documented process for implementing a facility wide lockdown and a formalized threat assessment & management process.

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