A Look at Total Cost of Ownership for Campus Security

Sept. 16, 2019
Choosing a security solutions partner that understands the ecosystem is important

Keeping the college and university population safe and secure during volatile political and economic times requires the partnership of college administrators, public safety, law enforcement and security professionals. Many campuses are ramping up their overall security programs to ensure that their students, faculty, staff and visitors continue to remain safe and to ensure their reputation as a safe and secure place of study remains intact.

Sustainability is a vital component to a robust and comprehensive security plan. There is no single factor that negatively effects the quality of a security program more than turnover.  Retention of quality well trained individuals is critical to sustaining a superior program. Offering affordable housing in the neighborhoods surrounding your campus to your security/public safety staff can ensure your program is sustainable and structured to deliver each day for the long term.

Economic sustainability can be achieved for low- and mid--income workers who have access to these campus surrounding neighborhoods and who are afforded a great place to live close to work. These employees have lower fuel costs and use fewer natural resources as they have access to public transportation or can walk or bike to work. These employees are part of the community who extend the footprint and posture of the campus security into its surrounding areas 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year. 

Sustainable campuses help attract high-quality security professionals who are the cornerstone of a successful security program. Reliable and compassionate security professionals who are well-trained and committed to an ongoing career path at your institution ensures a successful and well-received campus security program. When selecting security professionals to work on campus, we review the individual’s background, competencies, employment history and skill sets.  We understand that campuses require a particular type of individual to be successful. They must be able to work with many types of populations seamlessly and have tremendous communication and interpersonal skills.  Diversity is critically important to a well-structured security staff along with a willingness to provide concierge level security services. 

Developing the Proper Skill Sets

Once we have identified a person with the proper skill sets, it then becomes incumbent upon us to provide the learning and development tools and programs to ensure that individuals are training to the understand the uniqueness of a campus/school environment. All our higher education professionals receive instruction in:

  •  The Clery Act
  • Campus Security Authority (CSA)
  • Title IX
  • VAWA
  • Trauma Informed Response
  • Campus-Focused Customer Service
  • Emergency Preparedness 

These training programs not only help our employees to service our client populations more effectively, but they also offer the additional benefit of a clear growth and career path for our professionals within your institution’s public safety program. Learning and development never stops at our higher education client sites as we offer instructor-led classroom and virtual training settings on content co-developed with the clients tailored to their individual sites. Learning and development along with career growth and path for our front-line public safety professionals is significant to the sustainability of any program.

Additionally, we analyze the capacity of all security teams to fill posts reliably and to meet the cyclical and ad hoc flexible requirements of an institution. We review and measure the tangible interactions our clients and their communities have with our security professionals – impact, image, communications and performance are empowered. 

How to Deliver Cost-Effective Security

Total cost of ownership (TCO) is measured in a variety of ways including reduced risk, limited liability and reduced cost of our clients’ operations. TCO is an asserted benefit with tangible measurements throughout the delivery process including monitoring key performance indicators, providing reliable information that confirms compliance with contractual commitments, and the ultimate measure of assurance that the security professionals follow post orders and management responded appropriately to a security or safety incident. Compliance information includes complete, accurate and timely reporting of all measures of contract security service which include incident reports, daily logs, tour completeness, payroll accuracy and training compliance.

Contracted security professionals are not meant to replace specially trained law enforcement officers. They are intended to supplement police by offloading routine security tasks that are necessary to ensure everyone’s peace of mind. While leaving complex law enforcement situations to qualified and extensively trained campus police, contracted security professionals, who are more affordable than police officers, are trained to effectively handle everyday security tasks on campus. The suite of services and solutions offered by contract security focuses on helping protect people and property.

Security services should include access control, building systems monitoring and personal and institutional business continuity support with the tools to ensure compliance with institutional policies and corporate best practices. An access control services center should be a part of the overall security program to ensure that those who are present on campus have a legitimate business there.  Regardless of the access strategy – from a fully open campus to one with increasing security with perimeters tightening around targets such as residential students, vital research facilities, institutional collections and other restricted venues – security personnel should stand posts that convey the institutional policy for the campus or facility. 

In addition, security service providers should use technology to deliver tailored and robust learning and development programs to public safety officers that ensure a consistent delivery of content with assessments for each subject module and to provide transparency and training compliance to clients in real time.

Contract security teams should ensure compliance with institutional policies and procedures and provide the toolsets to carry that out efficiently. In addition, these teams should offer integrated solutions for background checking, parking, student judicial management and incident reporting and follow-up.

Security should prepare for and respond to all hazards that could threaten the institution or an individual. These security professionals should be trained to respond to the most common incidents including First Aid, CPR and AED practices as well as complex scenarios including handling confrontations, dealing with fire and being alert to all safety hazards. 

Make the Right Choice

Carefully choosing a contract security partner is the key. Engaging a national or international contract security company that specializes in higher education and trains their security professionals specifically for the issues they will confront on a campus is the best choice for a university. You want to make sure that your provider is reputable, has years of higher education experience and a strong referral base. The security team must be trained professionals, supported by a responsive local management and logistical team, and a national support network. 

The company should be committed to enhancing the skills and knowledge of their security professionals. Training for post-specific responsibilities is fundamental. Enabling a program for security professional development on higher education and security industry issues is essential. The security company should take the proper steps to ensure their employees meet company, institutional and state regulatory standards by performing background screenings and administering drug tests. Institutions will also want to select a provider with a low employee turn-over rate, maintained through extensive recruitment resources, in-depth training tactics, and management programs. 

About the Author: Stephen Aborn is Director of Higher Education at Allied Universal. He can be reached at [email protected].