IV. The Security Context of Campus Crime
The security context of campus crime is actually a subcomponent of a larger set of activities relating to campus safety. Because of liability issues facing PSIs, many campuses have developed sophisticated policing and security agencies and activities to address a variety of issues involving campus safety including physical security (such as controlling access to campus, to buildings or offices in them, or to public areas such as parking decks or lots); law enforcement (which includes responding to and investigating alleged illegalities occurring on the campus); and information technology security (such as infrastructure protection from cyber attacks or hacking, and securing sensitive information such as student records).
A. Major Eras in the Development of Campus Police
While the first campus police officers were actually two off-duty City of New Haven (Connecticut) officers hired to patrol the campus in 1894, research shows the evolution of campus police agencies occurred over three specific eras, each of which had unique features (Sloan, 1992). For example, during the “watchmen era” of the 18th and 19th centuries, a variety of college or university personnel, from university presidents to custodians, performed security functions on campus that ranged from preventing fires, to ensuring property was protected, to enforcing disciplinary codes in the dorms.
Between 1900 and the late 1960s, a new era arose in which formal campus security departments were created whose “officers” had two primary duties: enforce campus disciplinary codes of conduct and protect university property from fire, theft, or vandalism. At some schools, these departments were organizationally affiliated with the school’s physical plant operations, while at others the department was organizationally linked to the Dean of Students. In either instance, PSIs often hired ex-municipal police officers to serve as “directors” of campus security, who then brought with them law enforcement experience and who tried to inject some of that experience into the daily operations of their departments. This change in orientation planted the seed for what was to become the modern campus law enforcement agency.
The third era in the development of campus law enforcement occurred between the late 1960s and the 1980s. It was here that profound changes occurred in both the organizational structure and responsibilities of campus security departments. During the late 1960s, campus administrators, faced with the prospect of having armed, municipal police on their campuses in response to the social unrest that seemed to disproportionately touch college campuses, had to make a decision about how to best handle their law enforcement needs. Student protests, along with the emergence of radical groups bent on disrupting campus life through bombing campaigns and other activities, combined with the influx of recreational drug use among students, created an environment in which conflict betweens students and municipal police officers responding to campus unrest was inevitable and occasionally turned deadly. As a result, administrators realized that, on the one hand, while they needed a law enforcement presence on campus, they also realized a college campus needed a specialized type of agency to deal with its unique needs.
Out of this dynamic was born what some scholars (e.g., Sloan, 1992) have called the “modern campus law enforcement agency.” Led by progressive campus police executives who recognized the need for a professional law enforcement presence on campus but also that their agency had a special niche to fill, they systematically worked to create training for prospective campus police officers that combined traditional police academy training with additional training to help officers adapt to the unique campus environment and its dynamics. Soon, autonomous campus police agencies began to appear that resembled municipal police agencies in terms of their operational, tactical, and administrative dimensions. In short, during the 1970s and 1980s, campus law enforcement underwent a rapid and intense period of professionalization in which it adopted many of the common characteristics of municipal police agencies and thus gained “credibility” in the eyes of students, staff, and faculty members alike, since these campus officers were no longer “security guards,” but actual sworn law enforcement authorities who had undergone at least the same training as that experienced by municipal police officers. There has also been a decoupling of law enforcement from physical security under this model.
As campus law enforcement agencies evolved, they not only adopted organizational dynamics and characteristics similar to their municipal counterparts, but also embraced emerging technology as routine additions to their tactical and operational activities (Bromley & Reaves, 1998a, 1998b). For example, many campus police agencies now routinely use closed-circuit television to monitor such areas as parking decks, green space, or particular buildings seen as high-level security risks due to research or other activities occurring there. As mentioned earlier, campus police and security agencies have also begun using “hot spots” analysis to identify places on campus disproportionately responsible for calls for service and are reallocating personnel accordingly. In addition, most campus police agencies have adopted nonlethal technology, such as pepper spray, for use in the field.
Finally, during the past 20 years, like their municipal counterparts, an increasing number of campus law enforcement agencies in the United States have adopted Community Oriented Policing (COP) as their new organizational model (Paoline & Sloan, 2003). This model involves decentralizing operations, reducing the level of specialization in the agency, reducing organizational distances created by rank structures, creating closer contact and bonds with the campus community via changes in tactical operations, and seeking greater emphasis on problem solving by patrol officers.
B. High-Tech Crime and Victimization
A recent challenge for the security context of campus crime involves the appearance of high-tech crime and victimization, including but not limited to writing and distributing malware, such as viruses; disrupting computer service capabilities; spying and network intrusions, including computer hacking; fraudulent schemes, including identity theft; illegal file sharing and downloading of copyrighted material such as music or software; academic and scientific misconduct, including purchasing academic papers online; and online harassment, including threats and cyberstalking, activities that McQuade (2007) describes as “information technology-enabled” (ITE) crime and victimization occurring on college campuses.
McQuade (2006, 2007) has argued that understanding ITE crime involves recognizing there is a systems component, which comprises the wired/wireless computer networks that allow computers and other types of electronic devices to send and receive data and which serves as the backbone of the university, and a devices component, which is specific electronic equipment such as personal computers (PCs), scanner/FAX/copier equipment, cell phones, and electronic pagers that are becoming progressively smaller, more affordable, and more powerful than previous-generation devices, and which allow users the extensive ability to multitask. College campuses possess both components and, as a result, create numerous opportunities for ITE crime and victimization.
McQuade (2007) has suggested that to understand how the two components combine to create opportunities for ITE campus crime, one must understand that motivated offenders adapt systems and device technology for purposes other than those for which they were originally designed. Such adaptations are then diffused throughout the campus community via electronic communication and the Internet, which in turn creates more opportunities for additional motivated offenders to engage in these behaviors, since they learn how to do so from the successes of others.
By their very design, according to McQuade (2007), college and university campuses create environments in which illegal use of technology can be easily concealed and difficult to detect, except through the use of electronic monitoring. An illustration would be a student sitting in the school library, ostensibly studying, but using a cell phone to text someone else. The student may simply be responding to a previous message he or she received, but it is equally possible that he or she may be sending a threatening text message to a fellow student (cyberstalking). This illegal behavior is occurring “out in the open,” and yet no one is the wiser because no one is paying close attention to what the student is doing. As a result, ITE crime that is able to occur out in the open makes prevention or intervention all the more difficult. ITE crime is also problematic because many times victims do not even know they have been victimized; having your identity stolen or your academic records compromised is harder to detect than coming home and finding your residence has been burglarized. Such victimization is further facilitated by failure of members of the campus community to adequately protect sensitive information, such as their bank account or social security numbers; this exacerbates the problem and encourages offenders to exploit the opportunities they find.
McQuade (2006, 2007) points out that ITE crime does leave evidentiary traces—it does not occur “just” in cyberspace. Evidence of ITE crime is left on computer hard drives and in email communications. There is electronic evidence that can link a particular computer to a specific log-in to a secure network. All this evidence can be retrieved, analyzed, and used to pursue criminal investigations and prosecutions. Thus, a relatively new challenge for campus law enforcement is to have the necessary training and expertise to facilitate the retrieval, analysis, and presentation of evidence relating to ITE crime.
Recent surveys of college students at three major research and technical universities reveal the extent of selfreported student involvement in ITE crime as both victims and offenders (see McQuade, 2007). The results show that nearly half the students reported they had been harmed by malicious codes, such as computer viruses or similar destructive programs, while about 1 in 5 students reported they had experienced online harassment, including cyberstalking, and 1 in 10 students reported their computers had been “hacked.” Further, on the offending side, over three fourths of the students reported they had illegally shared music files, videos, or other copyrighted material more than once, with over half reporting they had illegally shared music files 31 times or more. Also fairly common were such behaviors as unauthorized software sharing, purchasing papers on the Internet, or using information technology to cheat on examinations. How well these data represent college students’ ITE criminal behavior more generally remains unknown, as no large-scale, national-level surveys of such behavior have been conducted to date.
One response by PSIs to ITE crime is to create Information Security Offices within the IT department of the college or university (McQuade, 2007). Staff working in these offices are responsible for installing and maintaining technological safeguards; monitoring network traffic and activity; and preventing, detecting, and responding to instances of ITE crime. Personnel in Information Security Offices also work in tandem with campus law enforcement and other authorities (e.g., the FBI) to pursue investigations of ITE crime.
In summary, PSIs face a huge challenge in the realm of ITE crime and are increasingly devoting the time, energy, and resources necessary to help prevent, detect, and respond to such activities. As information technology becomes an ever-increasing lifeline for institutional functioning, PSIs’ ability to adequately safeguard sensitive information, design and implement safeguards to prevent behaviors such as network intrusions or denial-of-service attacks, and educate students about the responsible use of electronic devices and the ethical and legal choices they face when using such devices become a more and more important part of the security context of campus crime.
The security context of campus crime has undergone fundamental change over the past 100 years, and the pace of change is accelerating with each passing year. During the past century, campus security evolved from activities in which a variety of personnel engaged, to an agency in which highly trained and professional law enforcement officials now address the security and safety needs of PSIs in this country. Autonomous campus police agencies emerged, adapted to the unique needs of college and university campuses, and decoupled themselves from traditional kinds of security activities, such as issuing keys or identification credentials. More recently, campus security has come to include efforts to address high-tech opportunities for illegal behavior, and as a result, information technology security has become a key part of campus security operations.