Campus Law Enforcement – A Special Report

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Campus law enforcement 2011

The Campus Law Enforcement Report for the years 2011 – 2012, published in January 2015 includes significant data. Firestorm Colorado Principal Guy Higgins presents his analysis.

A major conclusion that can be drawn from this data (and which is mentioned in the report) is that, compared to the previous report (2004 – 2005), there has been an increased emphasis placed on campus security and law enforcement over the intervening period. That increased emphasis is the result of demands from the various public and private stakeholders (e.g. government agencies, boards of regents, parents).

The data indicated that private institutions employ more security personnel, per 1000 students, than do public institutions, by an average ratio of 1.33 to 1. The data also indicated that private institutions have experienced fewer violent crimes than have public institutions by an average ratio of 0.7 to 1. Similarly, the data showed that private institutions experienced fewer crimes against property by an average ratio of 0.8 to 1. Keeping in mind Mark Twain’s observation on statistics (“There are three kinds of lies; lies, damnable lies and statistics.”), these ratios are all presented to a single significant digit, and therefore are precise to only within about ten percent. That said, it remains possible to conclude that the presence of law enforcement personnel serves as a preventative factor – the greater the law enforcement presence, the fewer crimes, both violent and against property.

Given that conclusion, it is important to consider the training provided to law enforcement personnel, and to the scope of their responsibilities. The report provided data on both those areas, although training data is provided only for entry-level hires – not for ongoing training. The data seemed to indicate that the responsibilities assigned to law enforcement personnel at both private and public institutions has increased slightly since 2005. If so, then continued training – both class room and field (scenario-based live exercises) – across the range of responsibilities would be important. Such ongoing training may be conducted, but the report does not include that data.

The report does not include any data on crimes as a function of the sizes or locations (urban, suburban, rural) of the reporting institutions. Such information could be valuable in helping institutions gauge the optimal size of their law enforcement department.

While the title of the report is “Law Enforcement,” the data actually indicate that the most important benefit of a professional and visible law enforcement presence on college and university campuses is the suppression or prevention of crimes – a conclusion that has, apparently been reached by the institutions themselves since those institutions have increased the programs that are intended to enhance personal safety (such as evening and night escort programs) to augment the law enforcement presence.

Read more about Firestorm and our work in protecting campuses and students.

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