UCCS security policy balances community access and campus safety

24 September 2019

Frank Carber

[email protected]

UCCS’ status as an open campus, meaning that no physical barriers prevent unauthorized individuals from entering campus, requires certain steps to maintain community safety for staff and students.

Most buildings on campus are open and accessible during business hours without the need for keys or codes, with campus police being responsible for locking and unlocking buildings at the start and end of each day’s operational hours in accordance with a Public Safety policy. according to Deputy Chief Clay Garner.

According to Garner, Public Safety’s main goal is to ensure a safe and secure environment.

“Public Safety focuses on being as visible with vehicle and foot patrol as possible to increase deterrence,” Garner said.

Campus housing is an exception, where common areas of buildings are locked and require card swipes to enter.

According to Garner, classroom use on campus is not restricted exclusively to staff and students because of community programs. To help prevent unsafe incidents, classrooms are locked when not in use but it can be challenging to ensure rooms are locked when necessary.

Garner said that a large component of campus safety is maintaining a partnership with the campus community.

Campus police use security cameras on campus to prevent crime and to investigate reported events. According to university police however, surveillance devices are not placed in bathrooms, dorms and classrooms.

As a public university, UCCS serves not only students, staff and faculty but the larger Colorado Springs community. Campus safety depends on community engagement and preparedness, according to Garner.

“Without the campus community’s help in identifying security risks associated with people and property, we could never be successful,” Garner said.

Students can also help keep campus safe. The UCCS Campus Safety website encourages students to stay informed on matters of personal safety. They can sign up for UCCSAlerts and Reverse911 to be informed of any crimes or emergencies occurring on or near campus.

Throughout the academic year, the UCCS Police also runs a series of crime prevention events that students can and are encouraged to take, including ongoing programs like Never A Victim (NAV).

The annual UCCS Safety Report required by the Clery Act is available online and includes a breakdown of all crimes reported on campus and all university property.

The report says that both campus police and University Communications and Media Relations collaborate to distribute warnings in case of unsafe incidents in the areas around campus. Campus police are not alone in their efforts to keep community members safe.

According to associate direct of Event Services, Megann Murphy, Event Services coordinates with campus police to handle incidents with disruptive attendees that could create an unsafe environment. Murphy said that Event Services coordinates with UCCS Police in case of a disruptive attendee.

“The benefits of having a policy that outlines the use and scheduling of UCCS facilities and physical space allows us to consistently serve our users,” Murphy said. “If we did not have this policy, it would be difficult to schedule spaces in an organized manner.”