Public Safety Departments Need More Resources, Support to Comply With Clery & SaVE

Campus administrators must also make security an institutional priority and responsibility.

In an ideal world, our schools, colleges and universities would be immune from the threats and challenges that affect other businesses and institutions. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. Academic institutions are cross-sections of society and bear the same, if not more, responsibilities for the safety and security of their populations and infrastructure as any other organization. This cross-section brings with it all the problems that affect people away from school with the added factor of a vulnerable, diverse, complex population within a dynamic environment that runs 24/7. Institutions have a profound moral and legal responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment within which learning can take place.

Clery Act legislation with the newly enacted SaVE requirements and Title IX are federal statutes that require colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information. Clery Act compliance is a requirement of the entire institution, not just the security or police department. This is an important distinction and one that too many college and university administrators fail to recognize and embrace. Until administrators recognize this distinction and put in place top-down responsibility and accountability for Clery Act compliance, institutions will be at risk from a compliance and litigation perspective.

Geography & CSA Responsibilities Pose Significant Obstacles
We find that many colleges and universities are still confused by the requirements, especially as they relate to Clery geography and the identification and training of Campus Security Authorities (CSAs). Most institutions are making at least a basic attempt to meet the requirements but do not have the resources or training to understand or implement a program at anything greater than a cursory level.

With the additional requirements under SaVE, this is only expected to get worse before it gets better. In addition, victims, legislators and President Obama have made sexual violence on campuses a priority by sharing their experiences, creating task forces and designing legislation. This will put more pressure on institutions to address the issues on a campus-by-campus basis and may lead to substantially greater penalties. The general message is that board members and campus administrators should make the security of their students and employees an institutional priority or the government may make it impossible to ignore by imposing larger fines and sanctions.

So how do the board members and campus administrators accomplish this? First, understand that security, as a general concept, is a philosophy that must be developed at the administrative level, reflected in the business plan and allocated appropriate resources. In addition, it must be understood at the board of trustees level, consistently applied at the campus and staff level, and accepted at the parent, student and visitor level while promoting a positive educational environment.

It is the responsibility of all individuals to play a role in security, but it is the administration’s responsibility to develop a comprehensive security conscious environment, to train its stakeholders in security awareness, and to require observance of security policy and procedures of persons who traverse the environment. Institutions that understand these concepts have put in place the framework for an effective Clery, SaVE and Title IX compliance program.

Campus Public Safety Departments Are Overwhelmed
What we tend to find at the security department level is mostly dedicated, willing, capable security professionals who are overwhelmed by the complexity of their roles, the diverse populations for whom they are responsible, very limited resources and dated infrastructure. The willingness to comply with the provisions under Clery is high, but the resources at their disposal are minimal.

In addition they are trying to balance the day-to-day operations with strategic and compliance requirements. They are masters at doing more with less, but having adequate resources for the staffing and training that would be required to fully comply with the Clery requirements is just not available. In small institutions, security directors often have roles outside of security, which consume time and attention. In the case of safety-related or facility-related roles, these extraneous responsibilities may take precedence over security.

At the most basic level, all institutions know that they are required to put together an Annual Security Report (ASR) and submit it to the Department of Education. Crime statistics are the first thing mentioned by people talking about the ASR. Crime statistics are easy for security personnel to embrace, and including them in the report is logical but challenging for some departments. “The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting” provides ample guidance, but it is 285 pages of information that someone in the department has to read, understand and apply.

The challenges are real, and they will not get better until there is leadership, resources and accountability put in place at the institution level.

To Comply, Align Resources, Leadership & Objectives
We all agree that the safety and security of students, employees and visitors at colleges and universities is a fiduciary responsibility of institutions of higher learning. Together, board members and administrators provide governance, vision and strategy for the institution. The Clery Act, along with SaVE and Title IX, are regulatory requirements that provide a framework for the leadership to work from. A successful Clery compliance program requires alignment of leadership at all levels of the institution, strategic objectives, timelines, and resources.

Christine L. Peterson is the President at Risk Management Associates, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina (RMA). RMA provides security threat assessments and Clery Act compliance assessments including SaVE, and Title IX investigations for institutions of higher learning. For more information, visit

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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