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Signing up for security 101.

THE CRIME AWARENESS AND Campus Security Act, which requires colleges to publicize security policies and crime statistics, has fueled continued scrutiny by the media. Institutions that fail to realize the importance of access control on their campuses not only are more vulnerable to crime but also face the risk of increased lawsuits. Since an effective access control system plays a major role in protecting an institution and its population, it behooves campus security directors to examine the various components of their systems to make sure the school is providing the best security possible.

Key control. The first element of access control is key control. In most cases this begins with a central location where keys are issued and records kept. At many universities keys are distributed from multiple locations. Often each department's secretary is in charge of the distribution of keys. The level of security depends on the person responsible.

For a key control system to be effective, someone must catalog all doors; match that list with the keys that open each door; establish a record of the master key system and which master and submaster keys open which doors; determine who has responsibility for each door; and, if possible, know how many keys have already been issued and who has them.

Documentation is best stored in a computer. Keyholder information can be gathered by distributing a form asking who holds which keys. Although this information depends on the honor system, it will uncover the majority of keys in use on campus. The program can be sold on the philosophy that if someone loses his or her keys, the central control office will be able to contact the individual when they are found.

All of the above can be accomplished if the university elects to change the locking system on campus. A system of record keeping will start from installation, and all keys can be identified with a keyholder. Also, the university can establish a policy for issuing keys that can be discussed before rekeying each department. Universities often issue too many keys. Without education, the emphasis tends to be on convenience.

In looking into a new key system a number of factors should be considered. Unauthorized duplication of keys is the primary problem on most campuses. A new system should include an exclusive keyway that cannot be duplicated by off-campus locksmiths. Many keying systems are available that can be retrofitted to existing campus locks, which greatly reduces the cost of rekeying.

If new locks are being purchased, a study should be made of durability and cost. The preparation of the door necessary to install the lock must be studied. Many installations prevent universities from easily changing locking devices because of the unusual cutting of the door to allow it to accept the lock.

Another important factor is the control of the locking devices. Once an overall plan is in place, only authorized locks should be installed. Departments should not be allowed to install renegade locks to prevent others from gaining entrance. All locks and keys are the property of the university and should conform to the institution's formally approved accessing plan. Special situations where keys are not keyed to the building master or are not on the normal system should be approved by the administration.

The optimum situation is for a campus to employ its own staff of locksmiths. All lock changes and keys should be made by these locksmiths. The university must inform locksmiths in the community that it will not pay for unauthorized work done by off-campus locksmiths.

To accomplish this uniformly it is important for the campus administration to make a policy statement of its commitment to the access control plan. In an environment of multiple hierarchies, such as a college campus, a published stand is the only way to successfully negotiate questions of convenience versus security issues.

Campus housing. Universities that provide housing for their students assume a greater liability for security and safety. Some litigation has held that responsibility includes ensuring that doors are not propped open by students. Campus security should check residence halls frequently to ensure that the exterior doors are not propped open, door locks are not made inoperative by the use of tape or cardboard, and doors to student rooms are not left unlocked.

Certain security problems usually recur. For example, students often put their key on a string, the end of which is passed under the bottom of the door so that a common key can be used by roommates or friends. Students do not like to take a key when they are going to the showers or to vending machines, so doors are usually left open.

Locks are student rooms should be the type that remain locked from the outside at all times and cannot be converted to an unlocked position by the use of an interior thumb latch. If possible, a door closer should be on each door to prevent the door from remaining open. This, however, is an expensive solution and can still be circumvented by students. No system is user proof.

Locks to student rooms must be changed as soon as possible if a key is lost. The charge for this lock change can be incurred by the student.

Another problem that occurs on campuses is that students who live on the first floor of dorms will also use the windows to their room as an entrance and exit to avoid walking around to the main entrance. Patrols should check windows during the day as well as at night to make sure they have not been left ajar. Exterior doors to residence halls should be equipped with a time-delay sounding device that activates when doors are propped open or when students are loitering in the doorway.

People who do not live in the dorm should be met by the resident and escorted to the room. Telephones should be installed at the main entrance so visitors can call residents. Residents should be encouraged to report inoperative locks and lost keys. Telephones can be used to request dorm access in these situations. The call box can also be used to alert security of suspicious persons in the residence hall or parking lot.

Card access. A card access system can be a tremendous boon to campus security. A system that controls access to the residence halls is far superior to a standard key and lock system. If, for instance, a policy has been adopted to change the access when a key is lost, it is faster, cheaper, and easier to replace an entry code than to change the combination for a lock and issue keys to all residents.

A study should be made of cost versus efficiency when considering a new lock system. The typical computer-controlled card access system allows for user and entry information, cards that can be specifically assigned and easily removed, system reports when a door is ajar, and system reports when an unauthorized user attempts to damage the system. The system can be adapted to a variety of uses, such as parking access and library usage.

Campuses, such as Southern Methodist University in Dallas, use the picture ID card, which is carried by faculty, staff, and students as their access card. Key pads, both mechanical and electronic, are a relatively inexpensive way to secure a door where restricted usage is required and where the group of users needs to be changed each semester.

E. Floyd Phelps, CPP, is assistant director of the department of public safety for Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He is a member of the ASIS Standing Committee on Educational Institutions.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:School Security; security considerations in learning institutions
Author:Phelps, E. Floyd
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Words:1270
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