Survey: 2 in 3 School Public Safety Departments Don’t Have Enough Staff
Despite the lack of K-12 security and police personnel, pay has increased and more campuses are arming their officers.
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In the final installment of our series highlighting results from Campus Safety magazine’s 2015 Salary Survey, K-12 respondents echo many of the pay, department staffing levels and weapons status trends revealed by college and hospital protection professionals.
Schools and school districts are paying their novice sworn and nonsworn officers more than they did in 2011 when CS conducted its previous salary survey. More than half of K-12’s sworn police officers (54 percent) make more than $35,000 per year. Four years ago, only 42 percent made that amount. Additionally, 79 percent of nonsworn officers now make more than $22,500 per year, compared to 2011 when only 57 percent were paid that salary.
Benefits and incentives for sworn officers, including health insurance and retirement benefits, have increased slightly. For nonsworn officers, however, they have decreased significantly. The percentage of these employees receiving health insurance and retirement benefits dropped by 14 and 17 percentage points, respectively.
Like their higher ed and healthcare brethren, K-12 protection professionals are also very concerned about staffing, with 44 percent indicating “appropriate staffing levels” was one of their top five concerns. It should be noted, however, that this is six percentage points lower than in 2011. That being said, more than two-thirds of all K-12 salary survey respondents say their public safety departments are understaffed. Of those respondents, 104 percent believe they need to more than double the number of sworn and nonsworn officers and other department staff for their public safety department to be optimally effective.
Schools – again, like colleges and hospitals – are also opting to arm more of their officers. The percentage of respondents who say their officers carry some kind of weapon jumped from 49 percent in 2011 to 57 percent in 2015. The biggest increase involved the number of participants who indicated their officers are armed with both lethal and less-lethal weapons (18 percent in 2011 and 30 percent now).
These results are not all that surprising in light of the fallout from the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, the recent economic recovery and the spate of gun violence campuses have been experiencing. One finding from this survey that some may find surprising, however, is in the perception by survey participants of increased administrator apathy and/or naiveté regarding campus safety and security. Four years ago, 43 percent of survey respondents indicated this was one of their top five concerns. In this year’s survey, however, that percentage went up to 49 percent.
Other significant shifts in concerns involved video surveillance (up 22 percentage points to 41 percent); access control (up 15 points to 28 percent); and emergency preparedness (down nine points to 52 percent).