Top Campus Security Trends to Watch in 2013

Access control, training and weapons, as well as the management of keys, guests and emergency power, are some of the top issues that should be on your radar this year.

Campus Safety is proud to unveil our 2013 Yearbook. Included in this print and online resource are statistics on the issues you care about most, including campus police and security department staffing, pay and morale; weapons; training; public safety policies and issues; emergency management; and security technology. Informative articles are also included, as are profiles of today’s top security and public safety equipment and service providers.

I’d specifically like to call your attention to some of the issues that have developed recently or have continued to develop over the past few years. I suspect the trends listed below will be getting a lot more attention in 2013, so be prepared.

Visitor management and access control: In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, K-12 school officials are scrambling to determine how they can prevent an intruder armed with a high-powered weapon from gaining access to campus… or, at the very least, slow him down. You can bet that schools across our nation will be considering the upgrade of their access control technologies, panic buttons, classroom door locks, windows (either glazing or bullet-proof glass), fences, metal detection and more.

Even before the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, more and more university, hospital and school protection professionals were realizing that paper guest logs are no longer acceptable ways of keeping track of visitors. More than two in five campuses (43%) say that lack of a visitor management system is one of their top five access control challenges. The issues with sign-in sheets are many, including illegible handwriting, lack of confidentiality and the potential for counterfeit visitor badges. Consider adopting a software solution to help you better manage campus guests as well as decrease your institution’s exposure to liability.

Training of school teachers and staff: The Newtown tragedy has impacted this aspect of security as well. Teachers, administrators and staff must know how to respond during an active shooter incident. They must not only know what it means to lockdown and shelter in place, they must be able to take quick actions to prevent loss of life. They must also be trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS).

Training also applies to other threats. Nearly a third of Campus Safety’s opinion survey respondents say their campus police and/or security officers don’t receive enough training on workplace violence or on how to safely restrain individuals who are harming or might harm themselves or others. A whopping 45% say their general staff don’t get enough training on safe restraints. Fortunately, there are some highly respected organizations that can train police, security and general campus personnel on how to address these problems.

Putting armed officers on campus: Sandy Hook has prompted the National Rifle Association (NRA) to call for the posting of armed officers at U.S. elementary schools, and some districts have followed suit. That said, whether our nation has the will or the money to adopt this recommendation remains to be seen. Putting SROs in every U.S. school is expensive. Campus Safety will keep you up to date on this controversial topic.

Tracking keys: It seems like so many campuses have hundreds or thousands of keys, yet they often lack an efficient way of identifying which keys open which doors or who has authority to use the keys. Many are lost or never returned once a teacher or staff member leaves. According to Campus Safety’s technology survey, 32% of campuses struggle with the tracking and management of their keys. Fortunately, card access control solutions and biometrics are excellent ways campuses can do away with keys and do a better job of tracking who enters their buildings. Key management cabinets are other excellent solutions to this pesky problem.

Backup power and generators: In light of the breakdown of backup generators at several hospitals in the Northeast as a result of Hurricane Sandy in late October, you can bet that folks from organizations like the Joint Commission will be taking a much closer look at how healthcare organizations manage and secure their emergency power. University research labs should also learn from Sandy, as these facilities could lose valuable materials should their generators fail. Consider consulting an expert on how to overcome your backup power challenges.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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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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