Campus Security: Communication, Collaborative Efforts and intersecting Ideas

Managing a More Complex Environment and Doing What We Know How To Do…Better! By Fred Leland

Law Enforcement and Security Consulting (LESC)

Crime and acts of violence on university and college campuses are more prominent in the news than ever. We do not need to look far back in the past to see the effects of violence on campus. It was just under two years ago the events of Virginia tech shocked us all on April 16, 2007. Also the Violent Victimization of College Students Report states; college students 18-24 years old were victims of 479,000 violent crimes annually during the period 1995-2002. The crimes include assaults, simple assaults, aggravated assaults, robbery, rape and sexual assaults.

Campus safety and security and law enforcement work hard to prevent this type of traditional crime and violence on campus from taking place. As campus law enforcement and safety and security agencies continue to work on traditional crimes and crime problems, new and emerging threats continuing to grow that will task campus security personnel with new more far reaching crime (transnational) and violent and unexpected and unpredictable crises such as possible terrorist acts they may have to contend with.

Emerging Threats

New threats are not only new in the sense that they have never happened before; also they are new at the rate they happen, how and where they take place from and by whom? The world has changed conflict, crime and how it’s waged is blurred. Crime and terrorism are now linked and perpetrators utilize national, international and transnational networks to implement their strategies and tactics as we have already seen here at home and abroad.

History has shown that on occasion college campuses can be a great proving ground to incite crime and violence. Today in this information driven world, the threats and crime trends we deal with are not as clearly defined as they once were and the stakes involve life and death and are higher, much higher than ever before! Our adversaries have us on scattered ground with our resources spread thin and leaving the homeland open and easier to attack. This includes universities and college campuses. This is a dangerous situation, strategically and tactically we are out of position. We must get serious and invest in preparing our people through training and collaborative efforts if we are to be truly prepared and able to respond effectively to new crime trends and threats.

Collaborative Efforts

After the Virginia Tech tragedy a report was issued to the president (George W. Bush) that raised critical issues: “Education officials, healthcare providers, law enforcement personnel, and others are not fully informed about when they can share critical information on persons who are likely to be a danger to self or others, and the resulting confusion may chill legitimate information sharing. It is important that parents, students, and teachers learn to recognize warning signs and encourage those who need help to seek it, so that people receive the care they need and our communities are safe. Meeting the challenge of adequate and appropriate community integration of people with mental illness requires effective coordination of community service providers who are sensitive to the interests of safety, privacy, and provision of care. For the many states and communities that have already adopted programs, including emergency preparedness and violence prevention plans, to address school and community violence, the challenge is fully implementing these programs through practice and effective communication.”

In short the following five key recommendations were made:

1. Critical Information sharing faces substantial obstacles

2. Accurate and complete information on individuals prohibited from possessing firearms is essential to keep guns out of the wrong hands

3. Improved awareness and communication are key to prevention

4. It is critical to get people with mental illness the services they need

5. Where we know what to do, we have to be better at doing it!

Doing what we know how to do…better

For this short article I want to focus on number five; Where we know what to do, we have to be better at doing it! This recommendation is the crucial link to success in the prevention and response to crime and violence as well as any other problems that occur on campus and is actually the link to ensuring the other 4 recommendations take place through intersecting fields that converge to effectively come up with insight, innovation and develop the initiative to deal with changing situation in a hyper complex, low probability, high impact situations.

The number one thing, the place to start is communication across organizational bounds, between the students, parents, faculty, health care, legal, administrative staff and security and law enforcement etc. Communication is something we all know how to do and must get better at doing. Egos and personalities must be tamed and open candid dialog must take place between all involved in the process and mission of creating and nurturing the proper environment to deal with the problems and threats we face. Communication will ensure information sharing takes place and a shared knowledge of what tools, resources and training is necessary to effectively build a culture of preparedness within the University and College Community.

Intersecting Ideas

The communication I am speaking of is necessary and will build effective plans through intersecting knowledge, knowledge management and ideas that will bring about actionable understanding, necessary to prepare and respond effectively to any problem.

In his book the “Medici Effect”, Frans Johansson describes Intersectional ideas; “are those resulting from combining concepts from multiple fields - areas of specialization gained through education and experience - as compared to those created traditionally by combing concepts within a field - noted as directional ideas. Success in intersectional idea generation is dependent upon breaking down barriers of association that would more than likely indicate a “non relationship” or at best limited context between or among fields.

… where different cultures, domains, and disciplines stream together toward a single point. They connect, allowing for established concepts to clash and combine, ultimately forming a multitude of new ground breaking ideas. This place, where the different fields meet, is what I call the Intersection. And the explosion of remarkable innovation that you find there is what I call the Medici Effect… (Stemming from the) remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-century Italy.”

The single point we are focused on as College and University security professionals is protection and safety. Better communication, collaborative efforts and intersecting ideas put into action is the place to start.


Johansson, F. (2006). The Medici Effect. Washington DC: The Library of Congress.

Ph.D, K. B. (2005). Violent Victimization of College Students 1995-2002. Washington DC: Office of Justice Programs Partnership for Safer Communities .

About LESC

Founded in 2006 by Fred T. Leland Jr., a Lieutenant with the Walpole Police Department, Law Enforcement Security Consulting (LESC) trains law enforcement and security personnel in strategy and tactics for identifying and handling dynamic encounters.  LESC training was built upon the Boyd Cycle, which is a tactical decision making process capable of enhancing the skills of law enforcement officers and security professionals as established by U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd.  LESC programs of instruction include:  Strategy and Tactics for Handling Dynamic Encounters; Level 1 and 2 Tactical Security Officers Training; Terrorism Awareness; Response to Suicide and/or Terrorist Bombings; Use of Force; Critical Incident Management; Threat Assessment & Management Model for Protection Professional and One & Two-Man Tactical Response.

LESC has provided services to United States Military Academy West Point; the Massachusetts Army National Guard; Bridgewater State College Police Department; Bentley College Police Department; Williams College Campus Safety and Security; UMASS Memorial Hospital Police Department and Hospital Security; Park Plaza Hotel Security, Boston; Merrimack Valley Financial Crime Network 2008 Bank Security Workshop and many others.

The company is headquartered at 473 High Street in North Attleboro.  For more information, contact (508) 298-2023 or visit the website at