In my last post, I addressed setting up a task force to begin the plan for how and when to lockdown a campus. Now it’s time to move on to the risk assessment.
In conducting a risk assessment, talk with the security provider to determine which areas of the campus require particular focus, such as academic buildings, dormitories, and parking lots, while also keeping in mind power plants and other infrastructure facilities that affect day-to-day campus functions. Talk with task force members on safety issues in their areas, previous incidents and any areas of concern. Analyze campus crime statistics and, if there is no formal reporting and tracking process, initiate one. It is also essential to review crime statistics in the greater community and to talk to city police officials, local businesses and neighborhood groups to determine security issues that could impact a campus. Also be sure to walk the campus. This is critical and allows for face-to-face discussions with faculty, students and third-party on-campus businesses.
While creating a security plan, do not forget to tap into one of the greatest resources – the campus staff and students. In the event of an emergency leading to a lockdown, faculty and staff can augment the efforts of campus police and other first responders. Many universities have literally thousands of employees, including students, who could be called upon to assist during a crisis. When the university president announces an emergency situation, the staff member steps into a different role to meet the demands of a crisis.
Each person’s role must be clearly defined in the security plan and adequate training provided. In creating a plan, do not underestimate the importance of conducting practice drills for all participants. Learn from the drill and then plan and train again and revise when necessary.
Good communications tools are vital in order to be effective in locking down an area as large as a college or university campus. Look for a Web-based electronic notification system that can alert thousands of people in emergency situation via telephone, cell phone, e-mail, digital pager, fax machine and wireless PDA device.
Locking down a campus is serious business. But if the need should arise, be ready to do the job right by planning and practicing ahead of time.
(Patrick V. Fiel Sr., public safety advisor for ADT Security Services, provides security advice to schools, government agencies and private industry. He has more than 30 years of security and law enforcement experience.)