While the goal of security operations at a college or university is to protect students, faculty, staff, visitors and facilities, an essential secondary goal is compliance with government regulatory requirements — including campus crime reporting.
All colleges and universities must comply with campus crime reporting requirements of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also known simply as the Clery Act. The act ensures that information regarding crime on campus is readily available. In order for an institution to receive federal student financial aid, it must comply with the act; furthermore, violations are subject to steep fines and likely embarrassment in the media.
Clery Act requirements include collecting and categorizing crime reports, issuing crime alerts, publishing an annual crime report and maintaining a public log of reported crime in a consistent manner. It also seeks to enable prospective students and their parents to make more informed decisions about the relative safety of institutions before applying for admission and eliminates the perception of the hiding of campus crime statistics by institutional officials.
The Clery Act also includes security-related regulatory requirements. For example, the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which outlines provisions for student loans and financial assistance, also requires disclosure of campus security policies related to emergency notification and evacuation procedures and of the number of fires and their causes in student housing. Schools with on-campus student housing are also mandated to have a notification and response policy when a resident student has been missing more than 24 hours. Another regulation is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of student education records and applies to all schools that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
It is clear that security compliance in the college and university regulatory climate requires a continuing flow of information about all facets of campus security activities. This information must be documented and compiled to fulfill compliance requirements and to provide important feedback and performance metrics to college and university administrators. Thus, leveraging a higher level of connectivity among security personnel and administrators on college campuses can supply a more complete picture of needed information, with software providing a tool to compile the information and maximize its usefulness.
Technology for Enhanced Campus-Wide Reporting
Because campus police and security officers work across an entire campus, they can serve as the “eyes and ears” of the campus security operation, as well as related areas such as facilities management. A security officer, for example, can report incidents such as broken glass or traffic slowdowns in addition to suspicious activity.
Mobile communication devices, such as smart phones, make it easy for officers to provide real-time information about campus operations. These devices free officers from the need to be tied to a video screen to monitor for incidents or in a patrol vehicle to report an incident.
Information — even video — can flow seamlessly to an officer’s hand-held device, and officers provide a continuous return of information via smart phones, text messaging, e-mail or computer entry. Security officers can send real-time notifications to a pre-determined list of recipients, review and manage an incident, assign it for investigation, if needed, or collect additional information. They can also attach video, photos or documents. The ability to perform all these functions using a mobile device boosts the capabilities of a skilled security force to new levels.