Florida Memorial University, a private university in Miami Gardens, FL, is the only historically black university in southern Florida. Established in 1879, they have expressed their pride of being a culturally diverse institution, transforming lives and helping to create a future for people from many races, ethnicities, countries, religions and socio-economic backgrounds.
Nearly 2,000 students are enrolled on the 50-acre campus. About 70 percent of the students live on campus in dormitory housing. There are more than 90 full-time faculty members and numerous other faculty and staff on campus. Students have a wide-array of degree options with more than 40 undergraduate degree programs and four master’s programs. Students from all over the world and different backgrounds attend the University to gain a highly sought-after FMU education.
At FMU, management of security is critical due to the location and the number of students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus. The campus is surrounded by fencing and hedging with three points of entry open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. A dedicated security team is needed to make sure the campus safety plan is operating efficiently and effectively.
The University’s security provider was not as responsive as the campus wished. Dr. Harold Clarke, Vice President for Administration at FMU, manages the campus security department and oversees the security staff. With a broad portfolio of responsibilities, Dr. Clarke expected a contract security provider to help relieve his daily engagement on routine issues. He sought a security provider that could take complete control of the campus security department and provide a truly dedicated, fully-managed security program.
“Although the University would like a contract provider to manage the security program, we are still very hands-on and want day-to-day contact with the security team,” said Dr. Clarke. “We had concerns with our security provider and their personnel short falls. The provider was not consistent on their processes, so it came time to search for a new solution.”
The safety and security program affects the community surrounding the campus as well. “The security provider is responsible for security at campus events, regardless if it is open to the public or not. Sometimes if the public is invited, we will need extra officers, so I needed a provider that could obtain extra officers for special events,” said Dr. Clarke.
The school needed the security program to go to the next level of performance. This involved working with the parents, students, faculty and the local Miami Gardens Police Department to ensure University rules are enforced and everyone is kept safe. The University wanted security officers who were well-trained, culturally diverse, well-educated and experienced.
Allied Universal presented a fully-managed, comprehensive security program. This included a dedicated account manager who provides critical management support and is on campus each day. Allied Universal began providing service in March of 2009, and 27 armed and unarmed officers are now assigned under the account manager’s leadership.
“The requirements for FMU security officers include having law enforcement or military experience or five years of armed security experience. We also look for firearms training and experience since only four of the 27 officers are unarmed,” explained Larry Coleman, Director of Campus Safety for Allied Universal at FMU. “Officers also need to have an understanding of the campus’ culture.”
Allied Universal security officers assigned to FMU complete standard security officer training, as well as Allied Universal’s School of Higher Education training, NIMS emergency management training, state firearms training and firearms handling and safety training. Ongoing training is conducted during holiday breaks when students and staff are off campus.
Security officers provide 24-hour access control for the campus’ three points of entry and conduct a roving golf cart patrol as well as foot patrols throughout the day. The campus is also constantly monitored by CCTV. “Allied Universal was very much a part of our camera system expansion,” said Dr. Clarke. “The security team voiced their opinions of where cameras should be placed internally and externally. The camera system is a real plus for the campus.”
Each student receives a handbook stating they are responsible for knowing the University’s rules and regulations. It is then the security officers’ duty to enforce them. “We speak to new students during orientation,” said Coleman. “We provide them with campus safety tips, an overview of the area and inform them of emergency phone numbers and locations of security officers.”
“The security team also reached out to students to help establish a silent witness program and escort program to walk students between buildings,” said Dr. Clarke. “Allied Universal was instrumental in establishing the programs through our student government association.” As an added layer of protection, there are 12 call boxes throughout campus which can be used to alert security when help is needed.
Additionally, Allied Universal security officers provide security services for campus events. “Visitors must be checked-in and given a visitor pass. They are then directed to the event location,” explained Coleman. “We do this for all visitors but the community is especially active on campus during public events.”
When needed, Allied Universal is able to bring in additional officers. “If an event is scheduled for just the campus, we typically have enough security officers. But if the community is invited, we may need extra personnel. Allied Universal is able to assign additional officers who are trained to our standards to secure our events,” said Dr. Clarke.
Students or staff who are looking to host an event must submit an internal facilities request form, seek approval and request security if needed. “I am then able to make recommendations as to what security staff they will need and if necessary, we can also partner with the Miami Gardens police,” Coleman stated.
Due to Allied Universal’s higher education experience, the enhanced level of training and the support of security officers, criminal activity in and around campus has been reduced by 10 percent. The crime rate reduction can also be credited to the campus’ improved relationship with the Miami Gardens Police Department and how the teams work together to keep trouble out of the area. There is also an improved perception of security according to an annual campus survey by FMU administration.
Staff and parents are pleased with the University’s commitment to security and safety. “Overall folks are appreciative of security,” said Dr. Clarke. “Allied Universal has allowed us to improve our customer service for prospective students, parents and the community.”
Parents are satisfied knowing that armed security officers are on campus to protect their children. Faculty stated in the annual survey that they are happy with the additional layer of protection, and are ecstatic with the change of provider, and increased security services.
“We have a security program that has good leadership, is responsive and collaborative,” said Dr. Clarke. “They work well with other entities on campus, have sufficient manpower and their service is consistent. We have what we need in a security program.”