USF’s decision to enter into a contract with AlliedBarton in an effort to increase security raised questions from many who work and live on campus. One of the most noticeable problems was the timing of the agreement. The decision was announced during a prolonged contract negotiation with University Police.
There are many who believe that University funds could be used more efficiently. The money being spent on a contract for security guards could have been more effectively used toward improving the police force that was already familiar with the campus.
It was an unusual coincidence when the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the American Association of Universities since 1900, recently came under scrutiny with regard to their campus safety.
The school had been struggling with safety issues this year, with an increase in violence and assaults on campus and in nearby neighborhoods. In the most prominent incident, a security guard offered to escort a student home. When they arrived at her door, the security guard exposed himself to her.
The guard – employed by none other than AlliedBarton – was removed from campus, and the company assures that it will not allow a similar incident to happen again.
As Penn and AlliedBarton state, one guard’s actions are obscuring all of the positive things their personnel have done. But regardless of how much the company boasts of its training program, or how clean a security guard’s record may be, he or she is not a sufficient replacement for trained police officers who are sworn to die, or be asked to take another’s life, to protectpublic safety.
Days later, Penn announced a new initiative that would focus on increasing funding for more cameras and lighting and an increase in available overtime for its university police. The plan makes no room for an increase in security guards.
Penn stated that the initiative had been in motion before the recent rash of issues students have been facing, including new apprehension about the guards hired to protect them.
Irrespective of when the plan was set in motion, the important matter is how the school has decided to improve security for students. Penn serves as a perfect example of what can happen when a university takes the long road around student safety.
USF is now in perfect position to learn from a school that has achieved the academic success it desires by learning from its mistakes in other areas. Instead of waiting for campus security to become a cumbersome issue, the University would be wise to save time and put funds toward improving on-campus safety and providing more funds for its police force.