Tips on Launching an Effective Campus Public Safety Department

Rick Gonzalez of Otis College discusses how he and his team successfully created the school’s department of public safety.

More campuses than ever before have made the determination that their college, K-12 district or hospital needs a standalone public safety department. But where should a new director or chief to begin?

To find out, Campus Safety magazine spoke with Otis College of Art and Design Chief of Campus Safety and Security Rick Gonzalez, who just this past year launched Otis’ brand new department of campus safety. Otis College of Art and Design is a small institution of higher education with nearly 1,100 full-time students. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of visual and applied arts, media and design.

In this exclusive interview with CS, Gonzalez discusses the process of creating Otis’ department. He talks about the importance of learning about the culture of a particular institution and working with campus stakeholders so that the department of public safety mirrors the culture of the campus. Gonzalez also discusses the importance of benchmarking with other organizations, including those that are different from your own to get a wide variety of ideas about training, customer service and other subjects.

Other important topics covered in this video include strategic plans, branding and how security technology acts as a force multiplier. Additionally, Gonzalez provides other small campuses with some lessons he learned during the entire process.

About the Author


Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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