Campus law enforcement agencies across the country are facing increased scrutiny, with students, parents, and faculty demanding more transparency and accountability. While 75% of current college students say they feel safe on campus, only one-third strongly trust safety and security staff.
To build trust with students and the broader community, your campus police department might have already taken measures such as providing frequent training, using body cameras, or implementing oversight committees. These steps are helpful, but they might not be enough on their own.
Electronic key control systems can be an additional tool for your law enforcement department to create a culture of transparency and accountability. Here are three ways you can use them to help:
1. Track Access to Restricted Areas With Automatic Key Logs
One of the challenges campus police departments face is ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to specific areas, such as evidence rooms, faculty offices, and student dorm rooms. This can be challenging when there are multiple people who need access to the same areas.
Electronic key control helps you track who has accessed keys to certain areas and when, which can be useful in detecting potential security breaches. For example, if a key log shows that a staff member removed a residence hall master key outside of their usual working hours and without recording a legitimate reason (e.g., an emergency), this could indicate a potential security breach that needs to be investigated.
In the event of unauthorized access, the police can easily access the key control logs to investigate the incident. For instance, if a student complains about a staff member entering their room without permission, you can immediately retrieve the key access history for that room and verify the facts. Additionally, you can include key control logs in required police or Clery Act reports, making it easier to ensure the accuracy and completeness of such reports.
2. Hold Users Accountable for Key Use
It's crucial to ensure that all staff, faculty, and officers who have been issued keys follow your campus’s key control policies and procedures. Electronic key control allows you to hold users accountable by automatically authorizing each user and tracking when they check out and return keys. Since the system can automatically control key access based on each user’s job functions and work hours, you can help prevent staff from using keys inappropriately.
In addition, using key control reports can help you make data-driven decisions about your key control procedures. For example, if staff frequently lose keys or return them late, that might indicate the need for additional training or stricter key management processes.
3. Conduct Efficient Audits With Verifiable Key Inventory Reports
If a key is missing or stolen, it can result in unauthorized access to various areas on campus, hurting the campus community’s confidence in your university's security. By conducting regular key audits, you can proactively address any missing keys before they lead to a security breach or damage the campus's reputation.
Electronic key management systems provide verifiable key inventory reports as well as overdue key alerts, helping you quickly determine which keys are unaccounted for. With this information, you can take prompt action to locate keys or rekey locks. If you identify a threat, administrators will have the opportunity to release a statement about the measures they’re taking to protect the campus before their hand is forced by the media.
Building public trust requires your campus law enforcement department to be transparent and accountable. While providing training, using body cameras, and implementing oversight committees are all steps in the right direction, electronic key control systems provide an additional layer of security. By tracking access to restricted areas, holding key holders responsible for following key control policies, and conducting efficient audits, you can better protect your community and address security concerns.