An increased number of incidents on campuses nationwide have raised questions about the role of security at colleges and universities. While many like to think so, higher education institutions are not immune from violence, crimes, and other legal issues. Most campus police departments function like any other local or state police agency. The police officers are present to maintain safety and order, as well as to educate students on personal safety. Most campus police departments are responsible for:
- Conducting regular patrols of buildings and grounds via foot, bicycle, or vehicle.
- Responding to mental and physical health emergencies and facilitating the response of the appropriate professionals.
- Enforcing parking and traffic regulations.
- Confronting violations of campus, local, or federal law.
- Notifying the campus of potential and actual occurrences of crime activity.
- Providing escort services.
- Looking out for students' safety.
- Presenting crime prevention seminars.
- Maintaining and reporting crime statistics.
- Helping maintain security and order at campus events.
First and foremost, university police provide help. Students should always feel comfortable calling the police for assistance—at any time of day or night. You should too. If you are concerned about your student, calling university police is your best bet. The department may be able to notify your student that you are trying to reach them and request that they call home or put you in touch with the appropriate professionals on campus. There is an after-hours on-call system in place on campuses. The department can contact professional staff members to assist in real emergencies.
Many people don't realize that university police have received the same training and possess the same credentials as the police officers we see in towns and cities. In fact, university police departments are often comprised of former police officers. They work in collaboration with local police and fire departments to foster a safe and secure campus community.
Campus crime reporting
Students often have an unrealistic idea about the level of safety on their campus. How aware is your student of the most commonly committed crimes on their campus? Do they know how to find out this information?
The Clery Act, a landmark federal law, requires colleges across the United States to disclose information about crimes on and around campus. This includes publishing an annual report of statistics, notifying the community about crimes that pose a safety threat, and maintaining a public crime log.
The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for enforcing this law. The Clery Act applies to most colleges, whether public or private. Those found in violation of the act can be fined and become ineligible for federal financial aid funding.
Crime statistics can be found on a Furman's University Police website