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.

Master plans are most commonly associated with electronic security systems. They look several years into the future at new potential threats and system expansion requirements that may be needed to mitigate them. 

Master plans produce long term savings in three ways:

  1. They ensure that products purchased today will be compatible with future system expansion requirements. 
  2. Master plans standardize on specific manufacturers, products and models,  allowing the purchaser to negotiate a better price.  Standardization will also save maintenance and replacement costs.
  3. Master plans can produce large savings in new construction by installing inexpensive elements like conduit, low-voltage wiring and fiber during construction, even if the systems they support are not currently in the budget. Adding these elements after construction is completed will cause the costs to skyrocket. 

2. The Program

Security programs are only as good as the planning used to develop them.  They require competent project management to ensure that each measurable goal moves steadily forward to completion. Having said that, great security can never be thought of as complete or finished. It is an ongoing process in which assets, threats, vulnerabilities and protection measures must be continually reassessed.

Security programs are unique in that individual components are often cross disciplinary. They can, for example, involve security awareness training, communication techniques, emergency response training, risk assessment, electronic system installation, new construction, perimeter design and installation and a whole host of others. The breadth and scope of these projects will require a coordinator who can work effectively with diverse groups of staff members, campus professionals, consultants and clients.

3. Security Manager

The selection of a competent security manager is a critical part of great campus security. 

To begin with, the security manager must have sufficient time and interest to get the job done. Assigning these responsibilities as an afterthought can ensure failure. The manager must be a skilled facilitator with sufficient interpersonal skills to work with diverse campus team members. They must have or quickly develop a solid basic understanding of security practices and principles. Finally, a competent security manager must know his or her own limitations and when it’s time to reach out to other industry experts.

Security managers operate much like safety or risk managers. Their responsibilities will often involve group presentations, training and facilitation. They may also need to manage construction projects, oversee electronic installations or work closely with other campus members who possess those skills. This position should report directly to a key decision maker.

4. Decision Makers

Decision makers may include presidents, CEOs, principals, board members and others with control of budget and operations. They are critical to great security in three ways:  First, the security manager cannot do their job unless others perceive that security is a priority for top management.  Second, the job may not get done unless those who control the purse strings fully understand what security really is, how it supports their mission and what might result if they get it wrong. Finally, decision makers cannot supervise a security manager and gain accountability unless they have a broad understanding of program components and priorities.

5. Accountability

Accountability, the last pillar, can only be achieved when the first four pillars are in place. Managers and decision maker should agree on security goals. The security manager will be responsible for moving the projects forward. Decision makers will need to review the progress periodically during the monitoring peri

Project goals must be specific and measureable to achieve accountability.  The process should not be rigidly enforced since assets, risks and vulnerabilities can change quickly, requiring priorities to be adjusted. Changes should be reviewed, discussed and renegotiated as soon as they are discovered or anticipated. Program success relies on the security manager and campus decision makers staying on the same page.

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Photo via flickr, mi55er

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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