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Smart Security Planning: Your Key to Administration Support

Here’s how you can make the case for more resources for public safety, security and technology.

One obstacle we face as security administrators and police chiefs is asking for scarce resources to prevent something we hope will never happen. After all, how does one prove the effectiveness of a deterrence policy when bad things haven’t yet occurred?

Ask any campus police officer or security guard about the role we play in furthering our institution’s mission, and you will hear that without security, the academic or medical mission of the institution cannot succeed. Unfortunately, most administrators who dole out our budgets do not see security as the sine qua non of accomplishing the primary mission of their respective districts, colleges or hospitals. At best, they see security as a supporting secondary mission, so security funding usually takes a back seat to funding for front-line academic and healing missions.

As a result, we are asked to do more with less manpower, aging equipment, old security technologies and reduced training.

In this difficult environment, working harder isn’t enough; we must also work smarter.

Partner With Campus Parking and Facilities
There are many things we do to protect our campuses. Many, such as parking cruisers in different locations to give the appearance of police presence, getting periodic threat statements from state fusion centers, and disseminating safety and security information on social media, don’t cost a lot of money.

Another initiative is to team up with your parking and facilities people. There are more of them on campus than us and since they are so ubiquitous, they are transparent. They can go places and see and hear things we in uniform cannot. With a modicum of training about signs of potential terrorism and notification of people and vehicles to be looking for, they become real force multipliers for us.

Finally, an active outreach program to your campus community will empower them to protect themselves and add to the eyes and ears available to you. For more costly initiatives, you can stretch your budget by sharing resources and conducting cooperative ventures with neighboring jurisdictions.

In any event, we still need to put boots on the ground since patrol deters crime, makes our clients feel secure and ensures expeditious responses to emergency situations. However, random patrol does not suffice to protect our campuses. We need to patrol with an eye on protecting our most important assets and doing so in an efficient and effective manner.

Consider Using a Security Checklist
Most institutions use some form of security checklist.  For instance, Alaskan schools use an 11-page checklist which is similar to others in use throughout the country. Alaska’s list is comprehensive, covering 156 areas, including access control, locks, surveillance, procedures, lighting and sensitive equipment. Upon reviewing each of these areas, an assessor can note its status and whether improvement is needed.

In a perfect world, everything will be regularly evaluated, with effective corrective action being implemented in a timely manner. However, this usually doesn’t happen. First, criteria of adequate protection often do not exist. For example, how many lights in a parking lot need to be out to constitute a problem, and does it make a difference if five lights that are out are adjacent or distributed equidistantly throughout the lot? Who makes this determination, and what is the basis of that determination? The response can be to repair everything whenever it’s discovered, but this brings us to a second problem: there is rarely enough money. Further, is there some priority facilities staff should use in determining whether to repair lights before alarms, for instance?

Security planners need criteria. We need to establish priorities to structure how often we look at something and how many resources (money, manpower, etc.) we direct toward them. There are two basic analytical methods you can use to arrive at these priorities: asset-based and mission-based.

About the Author

Contact:

Lt. John Weinstein is the commander of Northern Virginia Community College Public Safety District 3.

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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!

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