Page 96 - Security Today, September/October 2021
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The new-tiered guardianship approach uses other professionals with specialized expertise as first responders to non-police related incidents. Just as fire departments responds to medical aid and fires, social workers and behavioral health professionals would now respond to incidents involving matters such as homelessness, sub- stance abuse, and mental health/illness.
Additionally, unarmed public safety officers would now augment college police personnel, responding to non-violent and routine criminal matters, such as theft reports and building security checks/ unlocks.
The college police would respond as a support resource to the other first responders in this tiered guardianship approach, just as they do for the fire department when an incident requires police assistance. Using a holistic safety model, the primary role for college police has become one of community guardian rather than enforcer like their city police counterparts. Campus communities benefit from having college police onsite to continue and respond to violence and complex criminal matters. Calls to defund or abolish campus police have subsided as the college community increasingly sees how the new model works, and that they are still safe even as fewer armed officers are in their midst.
Research has shown increased interactions outside formal police enforcement actions can significantly enhance the cooperation between the campus police and its community (Williams, 2015). Research has also demonstrated when people relate with the police, they tend to view them more positively, with legitimacy (Bradford, 2014).
The paradigm shift from enforcer to guardian on college campuses described above would further enhance community relations in sup- port of inclusive safety, and can be a roadmap for college policing for the next 50 years.
The Future of Campus Safety
The role of campus law enforcement is at a strategic juncture. Wheth- er campus police will enhance or diminish safety on college cam- puses ultimately depends upon the social and political decisions made today by university communities. Safety on college campuses requires that we challenge the status quo. As we do, the future safety of campus communities depends on the success of realigning campus policing with the purpose initially imagined 50 years ago when cam- pus policing emerged – to support a safe and secure campus environ- ment for the whole community. It is time to enact a holistic safety model using a tiered guardianship approach in partnership with social services to support inclusive safety upon college campuses.
Lt. Anthony Frisbee is a member of the University of California-Irvine Police Department.
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