University and K-12 campuses have made great strides in their safety and security programs since the April 1999 Columbine High School shooting, according to a survey conducted by Campus Safety
magazine. That said, budgets and the availability of resources, as well as security personnel levels continue to pose major challenges to today’s U.S. academic institutions. Results of the study appear in the magazine's March/April issue.
Nine out of 10 K-12 and university respondents to the Columbine 10-Year Anniversary Survey state that overall, their campus/district is safer now than when the Columbine tragedy occurred. Nearly three out of four respondents say their campus is safe, if not extremely safe. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely safe and 1 being not safe at all, 70 percent of K-12 campuses and 78 percent of higher education institutions rate their campus or district as a 7 or higher. Four percent rate their campus as a 3 or less.
Although there has been a lot of progress, nearly one out of four respondents (23 percent) who answered “What, if any, useful programs or equipment have been cut in the past 10 years that you believe should be reinstated?” indicate security/SRO/police officer presence has been reduced — in some cases, completely eliminated. This response is not surprising considering that in the CS Salary Survey (See the January/February issue of CS), appropriate staffing levels was marked by 61 percent of K-12 respondents and 52 percent of university respondents as one of their top five concerns. In that same survey, budget/availability of resources was cited by 69 percent of K-12 respondents and 60 percent of university respondents as another problem area.
Columbine 10-year anniversary survey participants were asked to indicate the five most important upgrades their campus/district could implement to improve safety and security. The top five answers were:
- Install or upgrade security cameras (43 percent)
- Train non-law enforcement campus personnel, or improve the training we currently provide (41 percent)
- Train our officers, or improve the training we currently provide (31 percent)
- Install or upgrade access control (31 percent)
- Conduct hazard and vulnerability/risk assessments or expand the number of assessments we currently conduct (28 percent)
Despite the persistent challenges facing U.S. campuses, survey respondents say their approaches to protection have come a long way since 1999. Some of the most popular safety and security improvements implemented in the past decade include:
- Created or revised emergency plans (84 percent)
- Improved sharing of information with faculty, staff, police/security, administration, non-campus agencies and community at large (77 percent)
- Installed or upgraded security cameras (75 percent)
- Conducted vulnerability/risk assessments and/or expanded them (74 percent)
- Installed or upgraded mass notification systems: 83 percent of higher ed respondents indicated that this was one of their upgrades. Of K-12 respondents, however, only 57 percent – which is still a significant amount – said mass notification was installed or upgraded at their campuses or districts since 1999.
- Installed or upgraded emergency communications equipment/two-way radios (64 percent)
- Implemented or improved bully prevention programs (77 percent of K-12 schools and districts)
- Implemented or improved gang prevention and graffiti removal programs (47 and 46 percent of K-12 respondents, respectively)
- Half of all university respondents said they installed or upgraded their call boxes, and 34 percent installed new or upgraded dispatch systems and software.
To view the complete survey results and analysis, as well as Web exclusive material,
or go to http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/Channel/School-Safety/Articles/2009/03/Columbine-10-Years-Later-The-State-of-School-Safety-Today.aspx
About Campus Safety Magazine: Campus Safety magazine exclusively serves police chiefs, security directors, IT personnel, executive administrators and other community stakeholders involved in the public safety and security of major U.S. hospitals, schools and universities. Campus Safety is a product of business-to-business publishing company Bobit Business Media. For more information, please visit www.CampusSafetyMagazine.com.
About the Survey: An online questionnaire was E-mailed to Campus Safety subscribers on Jan 13 and 27. The survey was also posted on www.CampusSafetyMagazine.com during that same time period, and print subscribers were encouraged to take the survey online. Four hundred thirty five responses were used to compile the results with a margin of error of + or – 4.4 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. Campus Safety thanks all of the K-12 and college stakeholders who participated in this study.