Campus Public Safety
The characteristics of security and police services on the nation's college and
university campuses vary considerably. However, the following four primary types
of campus public safety services are most common:
- Campus police department: An integral part of the IHE that provides
law enforcement and other services (e.g., traffic control, building security) to
the IHE. All the members of the department are employed by the IHE, and the sworn
law enforcement officers of the department also have authority to enforce federal,
state, local, and tribal laws, as authorized.
- Security department or operation: An agency whose members are employed
by the IHE, but whose members are not sworn officers. Because the members do not
have sworn authority, the IHE relies on federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement
for support in criminal matters.
- Contract security personnel: A private firm contracted to provide
security services to the IHE. The IHE relies on federal, state, local, and tribal
law enforcement for support in criminal matters.
- Local, state, or tribal police: A local, state, or tribal police
agency that provides law enforcement services to the IHE by contract or agreement.
On some campuses, police and security operations may be provided by a combination
of the above services, with some services contracted to private vendors while others
are maintained as the responsibility of the campus public safety agency (which can
include a fire department or emergency medical services unit).
Regardless of the type of public safety model utilized by the IHE, the planning
team must take into consideration the authority granted to federal, state, local,
and tribal first responders to act on campus as permitted by law for each agency
(e.g., law enforcement agency, fire department, and public health office).
The type of police or security operation may vary within the same system or campus.
Among major state university systems the police or security operations may differ
from campus to campus. Individual campuses may have separate police or security
departments for different components of the campus, such as the hospital, graduate
school, or athletic facility. These different departments may have their own uniforms,
insignia, training operations, and policies.
The type of security operation also may vary between on- and off-campus facilities.
Many IHEs are decentralized, with remote centers and facilities located away from
the main campus. Off-campus sites may house important research and data records.
Off-campus residences may house thousands of students. Some campus public safety
agencies are responsible for patrolling areas that surround campuses pursuant to
legislation or through formal agreement with the federal, state, local, or tribal
law enforcement authority. At some IHEs, students are not required to live on campus,
and off-campus housing sites may not fall within the IHEs policing or security jurisdiction.
This may create legal, jurisdictional, and operational conflicts in preventing and
responding to crimes and managing emergencies.
Regardless of these variations, campus public safety officials should be intricately
involved in the creation of the higher ed EOP, as they have critical responsibilities
before, during, and after an emergency. To effectively develop and implement a high-quality
EOP, the planning team should work with the campus public safety agency to
- Inform federal, state, local, and tribal agencies about the characteristics, strengths,
vulnerabilities, and needs of the campus;
- Develop mutual-aid agreements and memoranda of understanding with other public safety
partners (e.g., those adjoining the IHE’s public safety entities, nearby fire departments);
- Participate in federal, state, local, and tribal activities, including exercises,
that address the range of campus public safety needs;
- Meet with other IHEs to foster information sharing, common prevention and response
strategies, and consistency in working with federal, state, local, and tribal public
- Improve interagency coordination, create coalitions, and develop partnerships with
federal, state, local, and tribal emergency management agencies; and
- Adopt common incident response strategies, policies, and procedures for use across
multiple campuses and sites, as recommended by the National Incident Management