Promoting Campus Security 7 Schools at a Time

CS Higher Education Director of the Year Stan Skipworth has proven to be adept at addressing the challenges in working with separate institutions with different cultures.

Campus Safety Department Gets Realigned

When Skipworth first took the position of director of campus safety in November 2014, there was no shortage of challenges awaiting him.

Skipworth began by assessing the effectiveness and perception of his department and decided the best way to improve it in the long term was through the professional development of his officers toward a more community-oriented policing structure.

That began with clarifying officer roles and duties in a revised department policy manual and moving from weekly shift scheduling to a much more stable six month shift cycle.

“There was no reason for the core shift schedules to be weekly,” Skipworth says. “It had an exhausting effect on officers and was a factor in employee turnover. Now people know when they’re going to be working, and it’s far more supportive of the employee on a personal level. It’s had a wonderful effect.”

Later Skipworth developed a department training plan that charted the development of skills for officers in specific fields. The additional training requirements were satisfied by partnering with outside organizations, utilizing on-campus resources like Title IX officers and by creating instructors within the department in areas such as First Aid, AED use, behavioral intervention and more.

“I can’t imagine being in a position where I’m asking people to dedicate themselves to an organization’s mission and not be investing in them to be successful,” Skipworth says. “The people in my department need three things: they have to understand their duties, they have to have the authority to carry out those duties and they need to preserve a culture of accountability. If you have responsibility, authority and accountability, you’ll be successful.”

To improve his department’s relationship with its campus communities, Skipworth created a campus liaison program that made each sergeant in the department an immediate resource for a specific campus. The program gave members of the department a new leadership role and immediately improved the accessibility of the department for each school.

“The people in my department need three things: they have to understand their duties, they have to have the authority to carry out those duties and they need to preserve a culture of accountability. If you have responsibility, authority and accountability, you’ll be successful.”
-Stan Skipworth

“When I got here there’d been a shift away from being proactive, so it had gotten into a call-and-response set of processes,” Skipworth says. “It wasn’t necessarily bad; it had met a need that ex
isted in the past. But things had changed, so we spoke to the campus officials about what they wanted in terms of a broader set of services.”

A student assistant program was also created in the campus safety department to increase the amount of direct interaction officers had with students. Beginning in the fall of 2015, six positions were created to help the department with administrative functions (such as vehicle and bike registrations), special events, community outreach support and safety escorts.

“Students need a place at every planning table, and we have the great benefit of having a student assistant program now,” Skipworth says. “So in casual conversation I can get people’s ideas on any given initiative. I also get a lot out of just going to dining halls or events and chatting with students.”

Partnership And Investment Improve Safety Department

The first week Skipworth took over he made it a point to meet with the Claremont police chief. The meeting set the foundation for a relationship that eventually led to a new memorandum of understanding between the departments, which has paid dividends for Claremont in multiple ways.

One of the first crimes Skipworth sought to crack down on was theft, specifically of the some 3,000 bikes regularly used on the Claremont campuses. To achieve this, Skipworth invested in a national bike registration service that was given to campus community members for free. The service worked as a deterrent for potential thieves as well as a recovery method if a bike was stolen.

The department also beefed up its own anti-theft systems by replacing its dated GPS tracking devices. The devices had been used for sting operations at bike racks and other target-rich areas but had become virtually obsolete after a previous vendor stopped supporting them.

The anti-theft security upgrades are a perfect example of Skipworth’s partnership with the local police department paying off. Both the bike registration and the GPS service are also used by local police, who recommended the systems.

“No campus safety department can get anything done if they don’t have genuine relationships with all of the available partners across the campus, so we really looked at ways to work with the police department more effectively,” Skipworth says. “The MOU laid out a plan where our departments can work interdependently without needing constant approval because we’ve developed a level of trust in each other. They know what’s happening on our campuses, and they’re never surprised.”

Other technologies have also been adopted that complement both the local and campus police department’s services, including tablets for officers in the field and a safety app for students, faculty and staff.

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About the Author

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Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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