Don’t Kill This Messenger

Published: October 31, 2005

I’d be willing to wager that many of you have had some less than desirable experiences when dealing with the mainstream media. A reporter may have quoted you out of context, twisting the meaning of your statement so it was beyond recognition. If you are a campus police chief, your officers may have encountered journalists who put themselves in harm’s way just for a good camera shot. If you’re an administrator, a local newspaper may have reported blatant falsehoods about your institution that were never retracted.

Yes, there are plenty of “news” organizations out there willing to do practically anything to sell papers or airtime. Others on both the right and left, while perhaps not intentionally biased, may unconsciously bring their own agendas to their stories.

Then of course, as campus administrators or police officials you have to work with school boards, nurses unions, teachers unions, students, patients, faculty members, boards of trustees, PTAs, employees, elected officials, clergy and a whole host of other constituents whose experiences and beliefs shape their reactions to everything they see on television or read in the papers. The potential for them to misinterpret what you say or do is very real.

Knowing this, it’s understandable that you might consider Campus Safety (CS) magazine to be just another publication that shouldn’t be trusted.

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But I encourage you to keep an open mind. There is a big difference between us and the other guys because CS is a trade publication dedicated to helping you.

We do this by reporting the reality rather than the hype and keeping our focus on solutions. It is our goal to provide you with the most accurate information and create a dialogue that will enable campus administrators and police chiefs to share best practices coast to coast.

Of course, before we can discuss solutions, we have to uncover the problems. Because of this, we won’t shy away from reporting on controversial issues that might push some buttons.

As CS’ new executive editor, I can’t guarantee you’ll always like what we cover. But diverse opinions, whether you agree with them or not, are excellent sources of fresh perspectives and ideas. In fact, if CS didn’t cover these topics, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs. Besides, wouldn’t you rather face a problem you knew about rather than one that took you by surprise?

Our goal is to provide you with a forum where you can honestly discuss solutions to problems before they happen. That means concentrating not only on incident response, but also on prevention and detection.

If anything, the tragedies of 9/11 and this year’s hurricanes have taught us that detection, prevention and preparation are critical factors that cannot be overlooked. Knowing what solutions to adopt, however, can be confusing because there are so many available.

I recently attended a trade show in Orlando, Fla., where more than 800 companies from all over the world were displaying thousands of security-related products and services – from background checks to guard shacks, electronic security equipment, weapons detection, uniforms and armored vehicles. You could get a headache just trying to see it all, let alone determine the appropriate applications.

This is one of the many situations where CS can help. Our mission is to provide you with the information you need to sort through the alternatives and make informed decisions about people, policies, procedures and purchases.

For example, your university, hospital or school may regularly experience the pesky, yet common problem of doors being left unlocked or propped open late in the evening. If one of the doors in question leads to a nuclear reactor, you just might have a significant vulnerability on your hands.

The solution: Possibly the combination of a posted armed guard, thick concrete bollards and an integrated CCTV/biometrics access control system monitoring the building’s perimeter doors, in addition to measures mandated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

With other campuses, this scenario still poses a risk, albeit more from theft and vandalism. The solution might be to simply enforce access policies that already exist. An unarmed on-campus guard making regular rounds or an upgraded alarm system are other options.

Discussions on topics like these will make campuses throughout our nation better prepared to face the future. Addressing these challenges, in addition to the funding, compliance, risk management, political and legislative concerns that invariably come with the territory, will also be a high priority for CS.

There is much to do in the campus security arena, and I believe the right publication can help to create a community that fosters the healthy exchange of best practices our industry needs. CS strives to be that publication.

I look forward to serving you

Robin Hattersley Gray is executive editor of Campus Safety.She can be reached at

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Tagged with: Features

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Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series