Campus security is likely a distant priority in the minds of millions of students returning to universities and colleges across Canada. And when the weather is still nice and the reality of exams is weeks away, you can understand why that’s the case.
Yet for professionals in campus security, the safety of those students is always job number one.
The University of Toronto – where they’ve had a special constable service since 1904 – is an excellent case in point. U of T’s Campus Police Services provides a wide range of security services, including building control, regular patrols, WalkSmart Services, Community Safety Programs, emergency phones and an on-campus Crime Stoppers program across multiple campuses in the city.
These and other security-related services – including daily, online postings of security occurrence reports [link to these are at – are guided by a comprehensive Crisis Preparedness and Response Policy.
According to Dan Hutt, Director of Campus Police Services at U of T, the key to campus security success lies in a positive interaction between officers and the broader community. As he writes on their website: [link is … http://bit.ly/o4lbMX]
Safety programs and electronic or mechanical systems cannot be fully effective against crime without the cooperation of the community they are designed to protect. Alertness, common-sense precautions, and concern for fellow students, faculty, and employees are essential in preventing crime and disorder.
Regardless of how well that mutual approach works, there will always be security incidents such as theft, trespassing and rowdiness. Add alcohol to the mix on Friday and Saturday nights and the number – and sometimes the scale – of these incidents goes up.
Unfortunately, some security incidents can be very, very serious.
A student died last month at the University of Cincinnati when he was tasered by campus police during a stand-off in a dorm room. Meanwhile, a violent sexual attack on two students at York University led police to arrest a non-student who had come onto campus. York University is subsequently reported to be arming their security personnel with handcuffs batons to help counter perceptions that the campus is unsafe.
The move by York underscores one of the big issues in campus security – should security personnel be armed?
Whit Richardson, Managing Editor of Security Director News, got to the meat of the matter in a recentblog posting about campus security. In his blog, Richardson looked at the security policies of the University of Cincinnati and York University in dealing with their respective situations.
Obviously the two universities (ie. Cincinnati and York) have different policies when it comes to security and intervention, and their relationships with local law enforcement. York has a “longstanding policy of non-intervention by security staff,” but is now arming its security guards with batons and handcuffs to counter perceptions that the campus is unsafe, according to the newspaper article. University of Cincinnati has no such non-intervention policy.
That one campus is in the United States and the other is in Canada helps explain the difference in security approaches to some extent given the broader acceptance of weapons in the US compared to Canada. So, too, does the level of interaction with sworn police forces in the host cities as Richardson points out.
Yet, regardless of whether campus security forces are armed or not, they are still in place to help provide a safe atmosphere for learning and interaction.
That means millions of students benefit from the dedication of those campus security personnel. And that, in turn, leaves plenty of time for students to enjoy the weather and, yes, to start focusing on those exams.