Security guards in gray provide highly-visible crime deterrent

As students hit the libraries overnight to study for finals, they might notice some familiar faces in new uniforms providing another layer of campus security.

Security guards from the Division of Public Safety are a visible deterrent to crime inside and outside of campus facilities like libraries, Campus Recreation buildings, residence halls and the Illini Union. Now, they will be patrolling campus in new gray uniforms designed to distinguish them from campus police officers and to be as visible as possible.

Security Coordinator Ryan Johnson said that a uniformed security presence lowers crime in the areas where they are visible, especially with regard to theft and property damage. Security guards also speak with students and university employees about the best ways to look out for themselves and others.

“The greatest asset of any uniformed personnel is one of deterrence,” Johnson said. “Along with high visibility, we’re also very engaging and believe positive interactions with the public encourages and promotes a willingness for the community to come forward if they are ever in need of immediate assistance.”

Security guards perform a number of public safety services aside from being highly-visible. They observe and report suspicious behavior to police, and they are certified in CPR, first aid and the use of automated external defibrillator (AED) equipment. They are trained observers and frequently find valuables and other personal items which have been left unattended in public areas – these items are targets for thieves.

“Their keen observation and attention to detail prevents countless thefts on this campus every year,” Johnson said.

Security personnel provide a walking patrol of interior and exterior areas of campus, and they most commonly patrol residence halls, the Illini Union, Campus Recreation facilities and the university’s three largest libraries (Grainger Engineering Library, the Undergraduate Library and the Main Library). They carry radios on the same frequencies as police, fire and EMS, and can communicate directly with these personnel in the event of an emergency.

“Our number one focus is on public safety,” Johnson said. “Our security officers walk several miles during each and every shift. They are highly-trained, dedicated professionals who focus on ensuring safe practices, which reduces risk and crime across our campus community.”

An added benefit of the new gray uniforms is to distinguish security personnel from sworn police officers. Police officers from the University of Illinois Police Department wear dark blue uniforms which are similar in style and color to the security guards’ old black uniforms.

Johnson invites campus community members to provide comments and feedback on the new uniforms by emailing

“We are always looking to learn, grow and improve,” Johnson said. “We pride ourselves in providing top-notch safety and security to this campus and look forward to our continued service at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”