The 5 Pillars of Great Campus Security

Great security programs reduce crime and support the organizational mission. They reduce actual risk along with the perception of risk and improve the organization’s financial bottom line.

The primary job of any security program is to prevent crime. Crime prevention is a good beginning, but great security demands more. It must also deal with perception — the fear of crime. There is an old sociological axiom: “Things perceived to be real are real in their consequences.”  If any part of a campus feels unsafe, the job of security professionals is only half done. 

Decision makers are often lulled into a false sense of security. Some may feel that nothing can be done to make a real difference with campus safety. Others might accept risk believing their security to be adequate if no major incidents have occurred in the last few years. Security expenditures might even be seen as competition for scarce available resources with their primary mission. None of these views could be further from the truth.

Great security programs reduce crime and support the organizational mission. They reduce actual risk along with the perception of risk and improve the organization’s financial bottom line. 

When people feel safe and secure, learning improves, stress levels drop, sick days decrease while employee longevity increases. Feeling secure is a critical first step in the development of effective teams. Great security programs represent a true win-win opportunity for any organization. Franklin D. Roosevelt was spot on when he said “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”

The news gets even better: great security programs are not an unattainable dream. They can be achieved without breaking the bank as long as the efforts are ongoing and make the best use of available funds. The five pillars include five prerequisites of great security programs. Each pillar is crucial to the development of a safe and secure campus environment:

  • Plan
  • Program
  • Manager
  • Decision Makers
  • Accountability. 

The Security Plan:

There are many pieces involved in the development of a great security plan. It entails more than locks and alarms. Effective programs are multi-dimensional, and they must be custom tailored to the needs of each individual campus. Security elements are often cross-disciplinary, which can make implementation an interesting challenge.

Here are just a few examples of potential program elements:

  • Crime prevention
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
  • Building design
  • Perimeter design
  • Workplace violence prevention
  • Bully proofing
  • Physical security
  • Electronic security
  • Security training
  • Security policy and procedure
  • Mass notification systems
  • De-escalation techniques
  • Active shooter contingency planning
  • Security officer force management

The list is long. 

1. Security Planning

Development of great security begins with the planning process. Security plans must look at current security problems and project into the future to anticipate future risks and vulnerabilities. They must involve all segments of the campus population — security is everyone’s responsibility.  Programs that exclude any segment of the population are likely to fail. An old university professor put it well, “all of us are smarter than one of us.” 

Planning great security will culminate in the development of two distinct security plans: a general security plan and a master security plan. General plans establish goals, and specify equipment and projects (countermeasures) to be undertaken in a single year. Each countermeasure must be measurable with assigned priorities and cost estimates. 

The general security plan is a flexible document designed to accommodate existing budgets while allowing for the best use of additional funds that might become available, such as grants. When planners are blessed with new funds, they look for the highest priority projects that fit within funding guidelines and cost limitations.

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About the Author


Jim Grayson is a senior security consultant. His career spans more than 35 years in law enforcement and security consulting. He worked for UCLA on a workplace violence study involving hospitals, schools and small retail environments and consulted with NIOSH on a retail violence prevention study.Grayson’s diverse project experience includes schools, universities, hospitals, municipal buildings, high-rise structures and downtown revitalization projects. He holds a degree in criminal justice and a CPP security management credential from ASIS. He is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on a wide range of security topics.He can be reached at Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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