The fundamental value the Department of Public Safety provides is a singular focus on the needs of the campus community, including being responsive to the expectations for the safety and security of students, faculty, and staff. Public Safety must rely on the community it serves for information to assist in deterring crime, investigating criminal acts and student code violations, addressing disorder, and enhancing safety and security.
Campus safety and security are not the exclusive responsibilities of Public Safety. The quality of the safety and security program on any college campus is directly related to the effectiveness of the partnership that exists between our department and other administrative units both on and off campus. The Department of Public Safety has invested in many formal relationships with other campus offices to play an active role in organizing cooperative programming. By establishing links with the community, we can learn of issues and respond to them before they become serious problems.
The day-to-day operation of the Department of Public Safety involves vehicular, bicycle and foot patrols, investigating reports of criminal activity, and parking enforcement. Workload analyses can determine the minimum number of staff to meet the needs of the campus, while considering sufficient staff to maintain acceptable response times to incidents and ensure officer safety on every shift.
The role of the communications function is to receive phone calls for assistance, enter each into computer dispatch system, dispatch the appropriate officer(s) and summon assistance or resources for the officers, where needed.
The communications function considers the needs of the community it serves on a typical day, as well as during emergencies. Staffing the communications center is not as simple as assigning people to answer telephones. The staff members must be trained in standard law enforcement and security procedures as well as emergency response. They must be knowledgeable in campus policies for parking, maintenance reporting, and locking schedules. They must clearly understand the role, duties, and responsibilities of the department to provide quality service to the campus community. Public Safety documents:
Crime prevention activities are central to a safe campus. The visibility of officers on campus is important not only as a deterrent to criminal activity, but also as a means for reassuring the community.
Colleges have characteristics that provide unique challenges to crime prevention efforts. Foremost among these is that a college community population changes dramatically each year. In addition, this population typically is not especially concerned with safety until something affects them.
Crime prevention is an ongoing and integral part of our public safety program. Critical programs can include:
Public Safety agencies have the capability to investigate criminal complaints filed by community members and pursue investigations to their conclusion. Officers/Detective may conduct follow-up investigations, with support when necessary from local and state law enforcement partners. Campus police also assist in administrative and internal investigations involving students, staff, and faculty members.
When a student is involved in an off-campus incident involving criminal behavior, investigators may assist the local police department in its investigation. Public Safety may share those reports with campus administrators for follow-up, potentially including disciplinary action.
Threat assessment and risk management processes enhance the College’s ability to identify persons or situations that present concerning or threatening behavior, assess their risk for engaging in harmful activities, and develop strategies to manage that risk. Public Safety fills an essential role in multidisciplinary threat assessment teams that facilitate the early identification of developing concerns and devise effective approaches to resolving concerns.
Public Safety fills an important role in collaborative initiatives to address the needs of individuals who require mental health assistance or have mental illnesses on campus.
A valuable and popular service that Public Safety provides are crime prevention training classes and community engagement.
The College must comply with numerous federal and state requirements related to campus safety and security. The most well-known of these is the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics that requires the College to disclose both timely and specific information and annual summary information about campus crimes and security policies. Other requirements include the issuance of timely warnings and the maintenance of a daily crime log.
Although the ultimate burden of compliance with the Clery Act is institutional in scope, it is to be expected that the campus police and public safety agency will play a significant role in the achievement of compliance. Key to the achievement of compliance, therefore, is ensuring that all the elements of the law are being addressed and that the responsibilities of and relationships among the various on- and off-campus units have been clearly documented and understood.
For many years, the College has dealt with critical incidents such as weather emergencies in the form of hurricanes and tornadoes, power outages, lab explosions, fires and medical emergencies. Active threat incidents have led colleges and universities to re-examine every facet of their emergency response plans including notification systems, business continuity plans, and National Incident Management System (NIMS)/Incident Command System (ICS) training.
Emergency preparedness mandates and expectations for reducing risks to the campus are a critical and time-consuming responsibility that public safety is often tasked with and without receiving additional resources. Inclusion of the entire campus community heightens awareness, reduces fears, relays expectations, gains support, and allows the campus to better respond to all levels of emergencies. Public Safety considers:
The College has a variety of special events throughout the academic calendar as well as during summer, winter, and other breaks. Many of these events would not be possible without the involvement of public safety to plan, prepare, and provide staffing to ensure the safety and security of all involved. These “behind the scenes” preparations and a visible presence at the events can require significant work that is too often invisible to many on the campus. Some of these events include:
Public Safety has varying equipment needs to support the mission of the department, as well as the different types of personnel employed. Some of this equipment is mandatory and some optional. Mandatory equipment is defined as must-carry or must-wear fundamental tools to safely protect the individual and to perform basic police and security functions in both non-emergency and emergency situations. Consistently, vehicle purchases and maintenance take the largest portion of these budget allocations. Major equipment and technology expenses include:
Training is one of the most important requirements for Public Safety. Public safety officers need to be trained in a variety of topics from critical encounters to professionalism and customer service. Well-trained officers are generally better prepared to act decisively and correctly in a broad spectrum of situations, and training results in greater productivity and effectiveness for the entire department. Training programs occur at different levels, including basic, in-service, refresher, or specialized, and includes the civilian and non-sworn components of the department. Potential training programs include:
The unexpected nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused Public Safety agencies to implement emergency plans or to develop unique responses to unexpected circumstances. Public Safety documents the activities and unplanned expenditures that we have undertaken as well as constraints such as reduced staffing or working from remote locations. Examples would include: