Campus Security at its Best
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- February 01, 2021
There is always a bunch of chatter in the college/university ranks of who has the best
football or basketball program. It is always up for debate.
For instance, as of this writing, football giants Alabama and Notre Dame are
ranked 1 and 2 respectively. In the basketball ranks, Gonzaga, Baylor and Iowa are
ranked 1, 2 and 3 respectively and all three are unbeaten early in the season. South
Carolina (1) and Stanford (2) lead the pack in the NCAA women’s basketball league.
All seven of these teams have one thing in common. None of these campuses are in the Top 25
National Campus Safety Summit, universities are making a difference in student safety. that is
certainly not to say that law enforcement on these campuses isn’t terrific, but they are not in the
Top 25. the departments being recognized for having increased the safety and security of their
Special recognition is garnered on California State University, Fullerton; the winner of the
2020 National Department of the Year, and to 2020 National Department of the Year award finalists
Santa Fe College, Gainesville FL; and Dixie State University, St. George, UT.
Cal State Fullerton
The stabbing death of Steven Chan, a former university administrator, at Cal State Fullerton on
Aug. 19, 2019, left a lasting impression on our campus community. As professional communicators,
we were thrust into the national spotlight as we scrambled to provide care and comfort to
our campus community through strategic messaging while also working with several campus
and off-campus agencies investigating the case.
Strategic Communications’ main goal was to keep the campus community informed about the
apprehension of the suspect as well as what we were doing for our campus staff, faculty, and
students affected by this tragic act. We also had the simultaneous task of responding to media
from across the nation looking to fill their 24/7 news cycle.
Our communications efforts were as timely as one could expect during a fluid event like a
murder on a college campus a week before the start of classes. We train and prepare for these
moments and hope when the time comes, we will execute a perfect plan. Our first communications
were hampered by lack of information, two law enforcement agencies working the scene
and some hesitation about what we could post. We quickly formed rapid response, letting others
know there was an issue, and that there would be regular updates.
Santa Fe College
Uniform Crime Report (UCR) crime statistics confirm that Santa Fe College crime has reduced
dramatically from 89 incidents in 2011 to 18 in 2018. Crime has been consistently very low from
2014 and remains consistently low thus far in 2019.
Critical to leveraging safe practices campus-wide. Internally most directly with students via
regular participation with Student Government, Student Life, the Counseling Department, Title
IX / Equity office and the Behavioral Intervention (threat assessment) Team. Externally via 7
formal mutual aid agreements with other jurisdictional law enforcement agencies and the State
Attorney’s office in the College service district.
Dixie State University
Dixie State University Department of Public Safety is the first and only university in Utah, to
complete and receive agency accreditation through the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, and
the only university to have agency accreditation of any kind.
A complete and legally defensible public safety policy and procedure manual was written,
reviewed, and implemented, using DSU’s General Counsel’s office, Administration, Human
Resources, Risk Management, and many others, to integrate and work in partnership with DSU
policy and procedure.
I’m aware that all campus police departments work diligently to stem the tide of evil. Take
note: the list of Top 25 can be increased to applaud the
efforts of all law enforcement.T
This article originally appeared in the January February 2021 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.