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Campus Protests and Demonstrations: The Role of Emergency Management

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2018
16 pages

This is a report on the proceedings of a 2017 forum sponsored by the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS), during which campus public safety executives from 23 institutions of higher education (IHEs) defined the role of the emergency management program in planning for campus events likely to include protests and demonstrations.


Forum discussions identified the most pressing coordination challenges faced by emergency management programs when planning for and managing campus protests and demonstrations. Ten topic areas were identified as needing to be addressed in planning for such occasions. The topics areas are command and control, planning, operational communications, external factors, violence, safety, secondary concerns, policies, media/crisis communications, and business continuity and recovery. Forum participants produced recommendations for ways to address these challenges. Among the array of factors, tactics, and strategies discussed, three core principles emerged. First, campus emergency management departments need more effective tools, training, and exercises in preparing for protests and demonstrations. Second, campus emergency management departments must be proactive in determining the appropriate ways to incorporate protests and demonstrations into their daily mitigation and planning activities. Third, campus emergency management departments must have a higher level of understanding, involvement, and support from campus leaders. Forum participants identified many promising practices that emergency managers should implement in effective coordination of protests and demonstrations. They are described under the broad headings of planning; organization; communications; and training, tools, and exercises.

Date Published: June 1, 2018