|Type of paper:||Research proposal|
Dear Mr. Cop,
As an undergraduate student at The Rutgers University, I understand the critical role played by security in the well-functioning of the institution as well guaranteeing the safety of students, parents, and the staff. Your statement in the 2017 Safety Matters Report is impressive, informative, and reassuring. "The goal of University Public Safety is to work in partnership with students, faculty, staff, patients and the community to provide a safe, enjoyable and fulfilling university experience. You can help us reach our goal by following security policies and ensuring that others do not circumvent them. Using common sense safety practices such as walking in groups, reporting suspicious activity, keeping doors and windows securely locked and limiting consumption of alcohol can also reduce the opportunity for victimization." Although the security officials and the institution at large have in the past implemented strategies aimed at addressing security issues, more needs to be done as evidenced by the high numbers of incidences reported within the University. In this regard, I would like to offer my input on this subject, particularly the rampant security issues in New Brunswick campus.
Students in Rutgers University especially those within the New Brunswick campus have increasingly become vulnerable to insecurity cases such as robbery, violent attacks, and gunshots. For this reason, the University should upgrade, implement new systems, and reinforce the current mitigation systems. I acknowledge that implementation of this program would require commitment of vast resources in terms of personnel and funds. In addition, I acknowledge that the University does not have strong revenue sources hence the challenge of raising funds. Therefore, it is important to seek other sources of funds. Rutgers Foundation, and the Public Safety Department will provide funds for the implementation of the new security strategies.
The implementation of the new security is aimed at improving the welfare of the students at Rutgers University, the staff, and the parents. The population of Rutgers University could be described as a cosmopolitan society that comprises of people from different cultural backgrounds, religions, nationalities, and socio-economic backgrounds. As noted by Jackson, many universities and colleges have in the past decade seen increasingly high arrivals of diverse populations which have intensified the competition for the dynamic student population (192). This trend has resulted in many institutional changes as schools strive to sustain the diverse cultures in harmony as well as adapt to the changes in the traditional population. These changes have had numerous impacts on campus security. A few years ago, security personnel were expected to be reactive while assessing potential risks and responding timely when an event occurred. However, the contemporary security system is an all inclusive and proactive system that is supposed to prepare for all types of hazards to create a safe environment for studying, working, and visiting (Mayer, 10-15). One of the most drastic security shifts is the change from officers as enforcers and responders to acting as key personnel in collaborative efforts of promoting the University culture.
The diverse student population comprises of people from various walks of life including urban teens and adults, dream chasers from foreign countries, military veterans, single parents pursuing better life, among others. In the same way, the University staff comes from different backgrounds to work as lecturers, technicians, and support staff. Typically, students, parents, and the staff experience confusion the first time they arrive on campus. Although they might seek for help from other people, the security personnel are the most sought for help. Even before joining and after settling in campus, students, staff, and parents research on the security status of the institution. In cases where they do not feel confident about the security, they opt for other institutions. Others proceed with joining the University but with uncertainty and fear for their safety and life. Karanikas, Melis, and Kourousis point out that safety concerns among the students and the staff significantly reduce their productivity (5-6). Therefore, improving the security of Rutgers University would reassure the staff, parents, and the staff of their safety as well as increase their productivity.
As noted earlier, insecurity within Rutgers University has been a major concern for the past few years. The University community has higher crime rate than that of New Jersey. Data by the Neighborhood scout shows that New Brunswick campus has a crime rate of 383 per mile while the entire state of New Jersey has a crime rate of 65 per mile. The violence crime rate at New Brunswick campus is 7.42 per 1000 residents while that of entire New Jersey is 2.45 per 1000 residents. In the same way, rape cases are rampant in the University at 0.86 per 1000 people compared to 0.46 per 1000 people in the entire country (Safety Matters, 66-72). These statistics demonstrate the gravity of insecurity and its effect on students' lives. It is likely that the high crime rates could act as deterrence for the students wishing to join Rutgers University.
The statistics presented in the Safety Matters Report 2017 put drug abuse, alcohol abuse, aggravated assault, robbery, rape, burglary, possession of illegal weapons, and arson as the most rampant crimes in Rutgers University (66-72). Rutgers University's policy on weapons is anchored on the state law under NJS 2C:39-6. The policy states that only commissioned law enforcement officers, military officers on duty, and other personnel authorized by the law are allowed to carry firearms on campus. The University's policy also makes it illegal for any member of Rutgers University to possess, distribute, or manufacture narcotics, drugs, or controlled substances on University property except with permit from police. Currently, Rutgers Police Department is tasked with enforcing all laws on illegal drugs in campus. Those found to contravene the laws are arrested and subjected to criminal prosecution, disciplinary action, or even imprisonment. In the same way, the Rutgers Police Department is tasked with enforcing state laws on beverages especially those that prohibit consumption of alcohol by persons aged below 21 years. All members of the University community are obligated to obey these laws and are responsible in determining how the laws apply to them. However, the use of alcohol is only allowed during events sponsored by the University and the keg beers are only allowed in students residence during parties approved by the Office of Residence.
Despite the efforts of the Rutgers Police Department in enforcing the laws, cases of physical abuse remain a major threat in Rutgers University. In particular, domestic violence cases such as rape, aggravated assault, and stalking are high both on campus and outside campus. According to Will, Universities and colleges have high crime rates due to the high concentration of young adults who live on their own for the first time in a society where state laws, federal laws, and institutional procedures and policies govern the community (343-361). With the increase in media attention on the increased number of violent crimes on campuses, many universities have implemented programs aimed at professionalizing their police departments to improve law enforcement standards, better training, and grant them full arrest powers.
Although many universities have strengthened their police departments, police officer to student ratio remains a big problem. This is no exception for Rutgers University which faces a huge shortage of sworn officers. The minimum number of police officers that a university needs is determined by scope of the campus community which includes the staff, the students, and the resources of the institution (Campus Safety and Security, 2). The student to police officer ratio is used nationally to assess the deficiency or adequacy of police presence on a university. As defined by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (ICAP), the optimum ratio for community policing is 1 police officer per 500 people. It is important to note that this is minimum requirement and not the best level. However, the ICAP is keen to caution against the use of these ratios as a basis for staffing because several factors sometimes increase or decrease the need for police officers (Campus Safety and Security, 3). These factors include campus location, off-campus facilities, student clientele, and university's mission. Statistics from the New Jersey Police Department show that many institutions in the region do not have adequate police presence (New Jersey School Security, 7-12). Achieving high student to police officer ratios would necessitate recruitment, training, and employment of more officers. However, this remains a challenge due to the lack of enough qualified people who would meet the minimum qualifications to fill the positions (New Jersey School Security, 7-12). The situation is exacerbated by financial challenges that make universities pay lower salaries than other agencies and departments. The need for adequate police officers at Rutgers University is underscored by the rampant shootings on campuses and schools. In cases where there is delayed response, there are many casualties while prompt and professional response significantly reduces the loss of lives and escalation of the incident.
The need to reinforce security systems at Rutgers is further demonstrated by increased number of U.S college and university students experiencing mental health problems. It is true that students experience college related stresses such as assimilating in the diverse student population, living on their own, and pressure to excel academically. However, evidence shows that there has been a shift in the reasons why students seek counselling services from developmental and informational reasons to serious psychological problems. A survey conducted in 2014 showed that 86% of the counselling directors had noted an increase in the number of students joining colleges that were already using psychiatric medication. In addition, the American College Health Association noted that more than half of the college students had experienced high anxiety levels and 32% were so depressed that they could not function (Campus Safety and Security, 4). These statistics show that a significant majority of the student population in the U.S universities, including Rutgers University, is unstable and highly inclined to engage in violent crimes. All these factors, increased crime rates, low student to police ratio, increased mental problems among students, and the arrest of sophomore student with explosives in 2012 demonstrate the need to implement effective security strategies that will reinforce the security systems of Rutgers University.
Expanding the Security Force
The implementation of the new security program will involve increasing the number of police officers, reconstruction and upgrading of the school safety and deterrence services, and equipping the university hospital to address mental problems facing students. Rutgers University is among the largest universities in New Jersey with a student population of more than 41,000. The large student population is scattered in the five campuses. The Rutgers Police Department provides escorts to the university community who accompany them to their residence, vehicles, or the mass transit system (22). Given that escorts are a call-to-access service, many students do not use it. Although escorts have been dismissed by scholars as least helpful, studies have shown that students felt safer wh...
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