Campus security is a crucial part of the assurance of safety and a high-quality experience on campus. Given the relatively large size of the Central Texas College campus, it may be difficult for adequate security measures to be in place. Moreover, there are numerous locations on campus that are not well-lit and not under any form of surveillance at night. This allows for the opportunity for nefarious conduct to be conducted with little risk of intervention at night Based on an analysis of current campus security protocol and the condition of the campus, the current condition of security campus should be improved immediately.
For the purposes of the current proposal, five areas of weakness for campus security have been identities, along with five corresponding solutions. First, there is an insufficient number of nightly campus security patrols. Second, there is insufficient lighting in many areas of the campus. Third, there is an inadequate number of public exterior emergency buttons on campus. Fourth, the communication between campus security officers and the student population does not encourage high levels of participation by students in reporting criminal or suspicious behavior. Finally, the number of campus security staffing is insufficient to adequately protect students, instructors, staff, and visitors on campus. It proposed here that further analyses of these issue are warranted and that the following solutions should receive substantial consideration.
The first issue revealed about the current condition of campus security is an insufficient number of nightly campus security patrols. Van Brunt (2012) found that many violent crimes, including assault and rape, occur at night. In particular, such crimes are most likely to occur in areas that are not well-lit and in which there are few people around at night. A brief nighttime tour of the campus reveals several areas that are isolated during this time. In addition, this tour made clear that campus security patrols in these areas were quite rare. While they do occur in these areas, they are quite predictable. For example, one can wait a security patrol to walk or drive by at night and then reasonable expect that another will not be around for at least an hour. This provides an unwanted and unnecessary window of opportunity for individuals to participate in nefarious activities in places that are not well-lit.
The proposed solution to this issue involves simply increasing the number of campus security patrols at night in addition to making these patrols less predictable. A good way to combine both aspects of this solution is to keep the current rotation of campus security patrols at night going, but simply add an additional rotation that does not follow a systematic pattern. For example, an area may tend to receive a patrol at around midnight. In addition to this patrol, another patrol may be going through the area ten minutes after or even twenty minutes after with the possibility of this patrol coming back around to check this area again being very real. By adding an unsystematic patrol to the current systematic campus security patrol, such patrols would collectively be much more difficult to predict. The result would be decreased nefarious and criminal behavior at night on campus. After all, such patrols would create the sense that any point on campus could be monitored at any given time with response times to events being increased as well. However, there is an understaffing issue that may make the addition of patrols difficult, which is identified as the fifth issue here.
The second issue noted here is related to the first: insufficient lighting in many areas of the campus. Again, at night there are many areas that are not only not well-lit, but that are isolated. Such isolation can be reduced through the addition of an unsystematic night patrol, as mentioned above, but that still leaves the issue of too many unlit areas on campus. In fact, during the aforementioned night tour, dozens of locations were found that were either completely dark or very dark. Part of this issue concerns the changing landscape on campus. There are simply more trees and other forms of vegetation that obstruct light. The other part of this issue is lights being off or no longer functioning. While the brief night tour revealed the greater issue, there is a need for a much more thorough investigation by campus officials to determine those areas that are the least well-lit and identify the lights that are either not turned on at night or are no longer functioning. Through such an investigation, a much clearer understanding of the problem can be achieved. Likewise, the results can be used to increase the lighting of the campus.
Third, there is an inadequate number of public exterior emergency response systems on campus. Such response systems can include blue emergency buttons that can be pressed in which campus security is immediately informed of an incidence, a blue light flashes, and a siren sounds. These buttons are important for medium-to-large-sized campuses for ensuring immediate responses to an assortment of security-related issues. For example, such buttons can be pressed when someone sees or hears an activity that may include the harming of another individual. The result is that anyone nearby is immediately made aware that something may be going on and the campus security are on the way. These systems are extremely useful in helping to stop criminal activities as they occur, as well as in preventing such activities through deterrence. Individuals who may be about to commit a crime or who are planning to commit crimes on campus may realize that getting away with such crimes would be very difficult.
Such buttons need to be installed in centralized locations across campus to help secure the campus and prevent criminal activity. The proposed solution, here, involves determining where the most crimes occur on campus and ensuring that these emergency systems will be installed at locations in which the victims or passersby could immediately trigger such systems. Similarly, these emergency systems need to be located in positions in which the offenders would be able to see them. The mere presence of such systems, again, can serve as major deterrents of criminal activity on campus, but only if they are easily visible.
The fourth identified issue involves the communication between campus security officers and the student population. Such communication, currently, does not encourage high levels of participation by students in reporting criminal or suspicious behavior. Shen and Tian (2012) found that student perceptions of safety on campus rely heavily on the relationship established between campus security officers and the student population. In fact, the researchers revealed that if there is no positive and supportive established between campus security officers and student populations, the academic culture of universities can suffer (Sen & Tian, 2012). It is clear, then, that the importance of proper communication between campus security officers and the student population is paramount to ensuring perceptions of safety on campus and bolstering a positive academic culture. Through conversations with students on-campus, it has become clear that campus security at Central Texas College does not have adequate positive communications with its students.
In order to improve such positive communication, it is important to open up the channels of communication between the student population and campus security at Central Texas College. The solutions proposed here involves a two-pronged approach to opening up such communication channels. First, every student should receive a weekly or biweekly campus security report that informs students of any suspicious behaviors occurring on- or near-campus. This security report email can be opted out of. Second, monthly or biyearly townhall-style meetings can be held that allow students with security concerns to openly discuss such concerns with leading campus security officers and administration as well. The minutes of these events will be disseminated through the email reports as well under this solution. This will allow for more instances of positive interactions between students on campus, especially those students who have the most security concerns, and campus security officials. The result is likely to be much more openness in reporting crimes and suspicious behaviors to campus police, as well as improved relations between the study body and campus security.
Finally, the number of campus security staffing is insufficient to adequately protect students, instructors, staff, and visitors on campus. Currently, the Central Texas College campus security team relies heavily on local peace officers. While members of the campus security team still play a pivotal role in responding quickly to on-campus incidents, they also rely on local peace officers to respond to major events or to help conduct investigations of criminal activities and trends. It is important to recognize that the relationship between campus security and local police officials is important and even required for the security of the campus. But campus security numbers should be increased so that the campus security team can be less-reliant on local peace officers for support. In addition, as identified earlier, there is a need for additional police patrols on campus, especially at night. The only way that this can be achieved is through the hiring of more campus security officers.
The obvious solution to this identified issue is to hire more campus security officers. But there is a lot more to the solution than simply being able to hire more officers. In particular, one of the primary needs is for there to be more security officers who work on patrol at night. Local and areal police officers often work as security for private organizations, such as night clubs. By hiring local and areal police officers for intermittent night shifts on patrol, the primary need for hiring more security officers can be filled, likely while minimizing the expenditures of the college. Thus, the proposed solution to the issue of an insufficient number of campus security officers is to hire local and areal police officers for part-time positions running nightly patrols.
Discussed in this project are five weaknesses of campus security at Central Texas College. It is clear that adequate campus security is important not only for protecting the interests of students, faulty, and visitors, but also for ensuring unhindered academic achievement for the students, as was shown by Shen and Tian (2012). Addressing these five weaknesses is, thus, extremely important in establishing and maintaining a security environment on campus. In addition to identifying such weaknesses, this project also features solutions for each of these weaknesses. Many of these solutions require further investigation or analyses to better understand the issue related to campus security. Moreover, many of these solutions require amendments to be made to the campus itself, such as the installation of more lights and emergency systems. Other solutions require increasing the presence of police officers. These would all be useful, but without establishing improved communication between the student body and the campus security team, student perceptions of safety on campus may not be improved.