Protecting University Security Professionals
Written by: Robert Kaiser
With a noticeable increase of young people moving away from home and beginning life on campus, university security guards are absolutely essential, in order to ensure the personal safety and protection of our students.
In fact, organisations such as the U.S. based IACLEA (International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators) and UK based AUCSO (Association of University Chief Security Officers) have specialised themselves in, and dedicated themselves to improving the safety of universities and higher education colleges.
However, it is rather saddening to see those countries, such as my home country Germany, still don’t see a need for dedicated security teams protecting these institutions.
Why do we have teams of dedicated security professionals here, but not in many other European countries?
I would love to hear from those in charge of university or college security, and include their comments, and update my article in response, if permission has been granted.
The security services within universities usually provide security patrols, surveillance, and emergency response for all University property. Their officers are usually on duty 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Operational Duties & Risks
Engaging with any member of public during those activities potentially means engaging with a person who can be intoxicated, mentally ill, have clear hostile intentions, or who will do whatever it takes to avoid either identification or arrest.
I remember when one security guard was stabbed several times whilst trying to apprehend three trouble making teenagers on the campus grounds of Leeds Metropolitan University several years ago.
I also remember the incident in which a University of Bolton security guard found himself dealing with knife-wielding burglar Anthony Web who was subsequently sent to prison, as well as the two brothers, who kicked and stamped on a security guard after he caught them breaking into University of Hull building.
Well, the USA had their fair share of well documented attacks within colleges or universities. A rather interesting list of all attacks within US based sub-secondary schools (universities and higher education colleges) can be found on Wikipedia, and I must admit it was quite an eye opener for me: click here
I think it is rather sensible to acknowledge that security professionals, charged with patrolling university campuses, and engaging with ‘persons of interest’ put themselves at risk when going about their daily duties. This ‘higher risk level’ especially during unavoidable face to face interactions, usually justifies or requires dedicated conflict management training as well as personal protective equipment in the form of stab resistant body armour, especially offering certified levels of protection from blunt force trauma injuries. Statistically ‘blunt force trauma injuries’ are the most common injuries most security professionals will suffer from. Getting punched, kicked, or hit by a blunt object is more likely than being shot or stabbed!
Several University professionals have been enquiring as to the use of our unique stab resistant vests within their line of work due and subsequently issued their frontline staff with this particular type of personal protective equipment (PPE). In my opinion they have done the right thing, they taken precautionary steps, rather than being reactive and waiting for an incident to happen and then having to deal with the operational, financial, moral, and legal nightmare they may well face after such incident.
If you are working within this specific environment, can I please ask you to take the protective panel out of its body armour cover, and check the date your body armour has been produced?
The raw materials used to produce body armour do degrade. The handling and storage of body armour will also have a significant impact on the life expectancy of a body armour.
The certification of body armour is valid for up to 5 years. The certification is invalid following the ‘expiry date’, meaning a) the level of protection can no longer be guaranteed, and b) the legal consequence for an employer would be much more severe if such body armour failed, as the body armour is no longer certified and no longer complying with laws, regulations, or directives.
In case you have any technical questions, please feel free to contact us or engage with Colin Mackinnon, my firm’s Technical Director. He has indisputably become one of this country’s leading experts on body armour. Following a 26-year career in law enforcement (counter terrorism, covert operations, surveillance, firearms etc.). Colin is now attending all our commercial meetings, advising university and hospital security teams, government agencies, private security firms and other enforcement agencies on this subject matter.
Or please feel free to ask me any questions or simply comment.