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No Questions Asked: Amnesty Boxes Provide a Low-cost Means of Improving Physical Security at a Large Public Event on a University Campus

NCJ Number
Campus Security Journal Volume: 11 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2003 Pages: 20-21
Mark Henych; Charlie Mesloh; Randy Mingo
Tom Nelson
Date Published
February 2003
2 pages
This article describes the use of amnesty boxes which provide a low-cost means of improving physical security at a large public event on a university campus.
Following September 11, 2001, the University of Central Florida developed a project with its police department to research physical security and came up with the idea of creating "amnesty boxes." An amnesty box is a sealed container positioned immediately before all entrances to an arena before a large music concert, allowing individuals to discard any items of contraband inside the container without fear of detection or arrest. Volunteers were recruited to watch these boxes, observing and recording items deposited in the boxes. The boxes were placed in such a way to enable any and all persons attending the concert to place items in the boxes that wished to do so. Observers and police officers wore plain clothes to preserve the integrity of the project. The items catalogued as being placed in the boxes included knives, alcoholic beverages, narcotics and related paraphernalia, fake identification documents, and other miscellaneous prohibited items. The arena also was searched both before and after the concert using both narcotics and explosive detection canines that supplemented officer search teams. It was found that amnesty boxes did improve campus security in a low-cost manner, reduced police-citizen encounters, and, most likely, arrests at the concert.