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Security and Safety in Canadian Universities

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Security and Safety in Universities in Canada

The level of campus security will vary depending on the size of the campus, the number of students, and the various services provided. Campus security can be run by an autonomous department, or be the purview of some other department such as parking enforcement or facilities management. Other times it is taken care of by an external agency such as the RCMP.

Community safety

When the campus is large geographically and night classes are common, a campus shuttle may be provided (usually free) at certain times of the day. These shuttles run a set route around the campus and will pick up and drop off students at these predetermined areas. Students in conjunction with Safe Walk programs can use this, where campus security (or sometimes qualified students) will escort students around campus after dark.

Large campuses will often have “Blue Phones”. These are phones placed at prominent and strategic places around the campus, placed so that a student can see a Blue Phone from all places on campus. This phone will usually have a direct line to campus security, and also have a special 9-1-1 button for emergencies.

Security will also do foot, bike, and vehicle patrols of the campus. They are meant as a visible deterrent to suspicious activity and also to provide reassurance to the campus patrons. Patrols are usually on a continuous basis, although there may be more staff on patrol at certain times of the evening or during certain events (eg. sporting activities, concerts, around pubs, etc.).

Sometimes campus security will partner with an outside agency such as the RCMP, especially if the campus is located in the middle of a large city or is part of a larger campus community. This external agency can be partially responsible for active patrolling, service and emergency response, event planning, crime prevention, statistical analysis, outreach and liaison, as well as the investigation of suspicious activity.

Often the campus security website will have a section dedicated to weekly updates on security concerns. For example, if suspicious activity has been observed in a certain parking lot, notices will be posted to that effect. Reports on escaped offenders or parolees are also posted for public safety.

Campus parking

One of the daily tasks for campus security is to patrol parking lots. In addition to enforcing parking (if that is within their purview), campus security is also responsible for acting on suspicious behavior in the parking lots (attempted theft, break-ins, etc.).

Access control

If a student, staff member, or school employee requires after-hours access to a building or room, campus security will accommodate. ID is required to prove access is allowed in the first place, and sometimes security will accompany you while you are within the restricted location. Campus security is also where you can report lost or stolen keys or access cards and request replacements.

Miscellaneous services

Among other services provided by security is the registry of personal property. This can include things like cars, laptops, and bikes, and is designed to make those items easily identifiable in the event they are stolen. Sometimes this service is provided free of charge; most times there is a nominal fee.

Campus security can also be responsible for lost-and-found articles, in addition to reporting stolen items. Found items are generally kept for 1-3 months before being donated to various agencies.

Even though lighting is generally the purview of facilities management (which may in fact be the responsible department for security in the first place), you can often report lighting outages directly to security, since this is deemed a security matter especially in places such as parking lots and doorways.

Emergency procedures and miscellaneous website information

Some campus security websites can be quite comprehensive, especially those of the larger universities. Many will have on their website a description of what to do in certain emergencies. This covers things like fires, deaths or serious injuries, bomb threats, hazardous material spills, and suspicious activity. Procedures are clearly laid out step-by-step and phone numbers and contact names are provided. Tips on keeping safe, information on upcoming first aid courses, crime prevention, identity theft, and storm procedures are often also found on their website.

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