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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Data on Campus Law Enforcement Released

January 26, 2015

The vast majority (95 percent) of four-year colleges and universities responding to a survey of campus law enforcement in 2011-12 operate their own law enforcement agency. The results also indicate that many more public institutions than private ones have sworn officers with full arrest powers (92 percent versus 38 percent). Slightly fewer institutions had armed officers: 91 percent of public institutions versus 36 percent of privates.

Conducted by the Department of Justice, the newly released survey updates a 2004-05 study. The agency surveyed 905 four-year public and private colleges and universities with enrollments of 2,500 or more; a separate report will cover smaller four-year schools and community colleges.

The report benchmarks staffing levels and pay ranges, policing activities and functions, weapons and communications equipment, and crime rates. Takeaways from the survey include:

  • Staffing Levels. On average, campus law enforcement agencies employ 4.1 full-time employees per 1,000 students, with those at private institutions employing more (4.8) than public institutions (3.6). The two largest campus police departments were both in Philadelphia, at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, each with more than 475 full-time employees in 2011-12.
  • Crime Rates. Serious violent crimes are much rarer on college campuses than in the country as a whole. While the national rate was 386 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, the campus rate averaged only 45 per 100,000 students. Overall, rates of serious violent crimes on campus have fallen since the 2004-05 survey, particularly at private institutions.
  • Preparedness. Almost all (99 percent) of campus law enforcement agencies held meetings with administrators regarding emergency preparedness, up from 91 percent in 2004-05. All of the institutions with more than 5,000 students use a mass notification system, with about two-thirds favoring a voluntary, opt-in system to sign up students and one-third preferring a mandatory, opt-out system. Only three percent of the law enforcement agencies at these larger schools had not participated in active shooter training in 2011-12.
  • Coordination. Eighty-eight percent of law enforcement agencies at public institutions had a mutual aid agreement or memorandum of understanding with other local or state law enforcement agencies, but just over 60 percent of private schools did. Interoperability of radio systems may still be an issue, however. Less than half of the institutions reported having radios compatible with other first responders in their area; another 30 percent reported partial interoperability.


Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs