September 21, 2011
For the past year, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Ron Paprocki has consulted with senior administrators, leaders and officers in our security force, and members of the University community to assess the effectiveness of our safety efforts. A list of several recommendations, which I have approved, will strengthen the work of Security Services and contribute to a safer environment.
The most important recommendation relates to the status of our security staff and to the safety equipment available to them. After obtaining the necessary state legislative approval, we will begin the process to establish sworn officer presence among the security staff. Approximately 40 of our 120 security staff will complete New York’s campus peace officer academy program to become sworn officers. Implementation will occur over the next 18 months.
This new classification requires a minimum of 332 hours of additional training. This upgraded status will give them access to the governmental criminal information systems for purposes of investigations and field inquiries for safety purposes. They also will have the legal authority to make arrests due to the commission of a felony, misdemeanor, or other breach of peace based on probable cause. They will be able to intervene promptly in mental health emergencies to facilitate quick transport to health care staff. And, sworn staff will be eligible for more continuing education opportunities.
The sworn officers will carry batons and pepper foam to assist in dealing with potentially dangerous situations as defensive weapons. They will not carry firearms or tasers. Non-sworn patrol officers will carry pepper foam for their personal protection.
Almost all of our peer institutions (for example, Stanford, Emory, Northwestern, and Cornell) are protected by sworn officers with safety equipment rather than licensed security guards alone. The common model appears to be a security staff consisting of a mix of sworn and non-sworn officers. Many of these universities have armed officers on their campuses. We do not believe that armed security is appropriate at Rochester.
After two years of implementation, the sworn officer program will be evaluated thoroughly.
Other recommendations include increasing in-service training, improving internal communications, enhancing technology, and strengthening the established “community policing” model.
Throughout the past year, members of the University community and outside experts have committed their time and ideas to developing a plan that will enhance campus safety. The leaders, supervisory staff, and line officers in Security Services provide essential services in times of stress, anxiety, and danger. We owe them our support.