How to Recruit Campus Police and Security Personnel

Schools, universities and hospitals require a different type of law enforcement and security officer than other types of organizations. This primer will help your campus select the right person for the job.

“Remember, hospitals are where sick, injured and, sadly, dying people and their families have to deal with [difficult] emotions,” he says.

G4S Director of Healthcare Services Ben Scaglione agrees, adding, “When people are in the hospital, the reason why they are there is because it’s bad news. Their minds are preoccupied with what’s happening to them and their family. The officers have to be sensitive to that.”

Be Mindful of Your Local Job Market

So where do you find good recruits, and how do you screen them? Most of the individuals interviewed for this article have found good candidates at the local police academies, other agencies and criminal justice programs. Internet postings and booths set up on college campuses are more ways to attract recruits. Other good candidates include retired military and law enforcement, as well as some careers that might not be so obvious.

“Believe it or not, bank tellers tend to have a high degree of success as security officers because of their people skills,” claims Bellino.

The job market in which you are operating also affects the caliber and quantity of candidates available. For example, NOVA is located in the Washington, D.C., area where there are more than 50 agencies competing for the same talent pool. So that NOVA PD can compete with other agencies, its pay and benefits are on par with surrounding jurisdictions. Where NOVA PD excels, however, is with its equipment and training.

“I have better equipment in this job than I had in my 20+ years working for a big agency, which surprised me,” says Dusseau. “We have more training opportunities than I ever had in my previous big agency. Those things go a long way in recruiting folks.”

His department is also very active in offering training venues to other local agencies.

Pack agrees that paying a living wage, providing benefits and training, as well as offering a career path helps to ensure a campus will not only attract good officers but keep them.

“One of the
things I hear from a number of my colleagues, particularly at the small to mid-size schools is they are tired of being the training ground for larger agencies. To avoid that, we need to offer interesting challenges to our most motivated and creative officers; something that keeps them engaged and grounded on our campuses.”

Recruit’s Attitude Plays a Vital Role

Before a recruit is even hired, however, a campus police or security department must conduct the appropriate background checks and complete the necessary forms, which often weed out the most undesirable candidates. Many campuses have a very formal and structured process that is thoroughly vetted by HR and the organization’s attorneys.

“We’ve put in a pretty rigorous recruitment and selection process,” says Bellino. “Your process needs to be well rounded. It needs to meet criteria, and when you deny someone employment, you’d better be sure why you denied them because there are a lot of laws out there.”

Once the initial interviews, paperwork, physical testing and background screening is done, what’s left is probably the in-depth interview. K-12 school administrators now often sit in on the interview of prospective SROs, which allows them to have a bit of a say as to who they will have on campus.

For Dusseau, there are a few things that indicate a candidate might not be a good fit for his college — a primary one being an inappropriate attitude.

“If they come in here with a know-it-all attitude or that college policing is really beneath them and that they are going to come in here and show us how it is done, that will turn me off ,” he says.

Dusseau also asks the recruit what they think their typical day will look like. If the candidate believes it’s going to include a lot of guns drawn and chasing of bad guys, the chief knows there is an issue. “If they have expectations that won’t be met, they won’t be happy.”

Photo iStock.

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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