National Center for Campus Public Safety
In 2004, the National Summit on Campus Public Safety was held in Baltimore, Maryland. The summit provided an opportunity for discussion and collaboration on more than 20 key issues. One of the recommendations to come out of the Summit was the need for a National Center for Campus Public Safety (National Center) because there is no one location for the myriad campus public safety resources and initiatives being undertaken nationwide, or for the fulfillment of critical information needs. With the many challenges currently facing campus safety professionals, the complexity of the environment has never been greater. The Center is needed to assist campus public safety leaders in navigating this environment.
Since the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007, several additional high profile incidents have adversely affected college and university campuses. These incidents range from natural disasters such as hurricanes and super storms to other rampage shooting incidents. In addition, concerns for the prevention of sexual and gender violence on campus (Title IX); challenges in Clery Act compliance, etc. all contribute to the opportunity for a central repository of safety and security information, technical assistance and training. These concerns highlight the need for a National Center that provides technical assistance to Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) in their efforts to enhance security and readiness on campus.
In March of 2013, Congress provided funding to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) for the creation of the National Center. In consultation with key stakeholders and federal partners, BJA developed a competitive solicitation and received proposals to create and host the National Center. Through this process, a cooperative agreement and subsequent funding was awarded to Margolis Healy and Associates, LLC (MHA).
Primary Responsibilities of The National Center:
The National Center will be a resource for campus police chiefs, directors of public safety, emergency managers and key campus safety stakeholders. With this in mind, the National Center will be a catalyst that brings together all forms of campus public safety, professional associations, advocacy organizations, community leaders, and others to improve and expand services to those who are charged with providing a safe environment on the campuses of the nation's colleges and universities.
The Center will work closely with BJA to:
- Identify and prioritize the needs of the field, and develop comprehensive responses;
- Connect existing federal and non-federal resources with the needs of constituents;
- Connect major campus public safety entities with one another, and with federal agencies to facilitate collaboration and coordination around issues of campus public safety;
- Highlight and promote best and innovative practices specific to campus public safety challenges; and,
- Deliver essential training and technical assistance specific to campus public safety.
During its first year of operation, the National Center made substantial progress in addressing several critical issues identified by campus public safety leaders. Key accomplishments include the following:
Developing and Delivering a Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault Investigation and Adjudication Training Program
- In response to the charge from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, as stated in the Not Alone report, the National Center partnered with subject matter experts and higher education institutions to develop and pilot a training program for campus officials that provides the information and resources necessary to conduct trauma-informed investigations in line with evolving practices. Ninety-one percent (91%) of participants that offered feedback on the initial pilot courses indicated they are better prepared to investigate and adjudicate sexual assault cases following the training.
Identifying Strategies for Enhancing Implementation of the Clery Act/Title IX
- The National Center partnered with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Georgia Institute of Technology to orchestrate a two-part national summit entitled, Practitioners’ Discussion of Implementing Clery/Title IX. As a result of the first summit, promising practices were developed and included in a published report.
- The National Center partnered with other leading public safety organizations and higher education institutions to host several forums to identify challenges in the implementation of the Clery Act, develop recommendations, and inform future policy efforts to reclaim the spirit of the act.
Informing Community Policing and the Use of Technology and Social Media
- The National Center partnered with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to survey campuses regarding community policing initiatives. The findings were included in a report submitted to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, along with written testimony regarding community collaboration, technology, and social media.
Creating a Clearinghouse to Help Campus Public Safety Officials Improve Security
- The National Center created a web-based resource center that currently has links to more than 140 government, professional, and nonprofit organizations that provide informational materials.
- The National Center disseminated over a thousand resource materials to public safety executives, including toolkits, guidebooks, news articles, conference listings, and professional development opportunities.
- National Center staff built a database and national directory of campus public safety executives and emergency managers assigned to the roles of Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Fire Safety Officer (FSO). The database includes the names of more than 8,600 CSOs and FSOs representing more than 7,100 institutions. Currently the directory includes email addresses and other contact information for approximately 1,500 CSOs and 1,400 FSOs.
Promoting the National Center to the Campus Public Safety Community
During the first year of operation, National Center staff presented to hundreds of public safety and higher education officials at leading conferences such as:
- National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Annual Conference;
- National Sports Safety and Security Conference;
- Heartland Campus Safety Summit;
- International Association of Emergency Managers University and College Caucus Symposium;
- Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference held at the University of Vermont;
- National Conference on Law and Higher Education organized by Stetson University College of Law
Weekly Communication with the Campus Safety Community
- The Weekly Snapshot, an electronic bulletin, offers another avenue for promoting campus public safety practices. It features timely campus safety resources and tips, including legislative updates and information about upcoming professional development opportunities. All Weekly Snapshots are archived on the National Center’s website and tagged for ease of access through the site’s search function. See the Weekly Snapshot Archives to review the topics addressed in the issues released to-date.
- National Center staff tracks the usage statistics for the Weekly Snapshot to assess the percentage of recipients that are accessing the resources provided via hyperlinks in the postings. The “click” and “open” rates for the Weekly Snapshot are much higher than those achieved by other entities in the education and services industry using this type of software to disseminate electronic communications. The “click-through” statistics for the hyperlinks included in the Weekly Snapshot provide an important indicator of recipients’ interest in the content.
- Two of the most accessed items introduced in Snapshot articles were the report entitled, Practitioners' Discussion of Implementing Clery/Title IX, and a sample MOU (referenced in the Not Alone report), Building Partnerships among Law Enforcement Agencies, Colleges and Universities: Developing a Memorandum of Understanding to Prevent and Respond Effectively to Sexual Assaults at Colleges and Universities. Looking at another important set of measures, the average “bounce back” and “opt-out” rates for the Weekly Snapshot are also much lower than the rates for other education and services organizations.
- The National Center has initiated several other important efforts that will extend the organization’s reach by the end of the year. Sub-grants will be issued to the Clery Center to update their training curriculum and to the VTV Family Outreach Foundation to assist with the development of a campus safety assessment tool.
- The National Center is considering how it might partner with the Disaster Resilient Universities Network to create a shared platform to provide the most efficient and up-to-date directory of campus safety officials.
- The National Center has been communicating with the American Council on Education about potential partnerships for presidential roundtables and fellowships.
- The National Center is partnering with the University of Vermont (UVM) on the campus safety track of the 2015 UVM Legal Issues Conference, which is scheduled for October 2015.
- In addition, the National Center is planning a series of educational webinars and is in the midst of identifying topic areas and subject matter experts. Through this expanded array of partnerships and programmatic offerings, The National Center expects to increase its impact substantially over the coming months.