University announces transition to hybrid campus police department

By Sarah Stubbs

Students, faculty and staff received a university update on Oct. 28 announcing that the Board of Trustees approved the transition of The University of Findlay’s Campus Security to a hybrid Campus Security-Campus Police Department.

Along with the announcement email came a power point presentation that outlined considerations, research, crime statistics, comparisons and frequently asked questions.

According to Matthew Bruskotter, assistant dean of environmental safety, security and emergency management, the first step in this conversion, that is expected to take a year to complete, is setting up the steering committee.

“We want to make sure all voices are heard,” said Bruskotter.

In the update, Dave Emsweller, vice president of student affairs, said that he will be forming the steering committee of faculty, staff and students to supervise the conversion and consider community feedback.

The University’s goal, according to the power point, is to eventually staff one chief, one captain, two sergeants, six peace officers and eight safety officers.

Bruskotter said that The University will not be laying off any current security officers during the process of conversion, but new officers will most likely be brought in.

“Some of our current security officers are certified law enforcement officers and will be considered for positions as police officers if they apply. We will have to hire some new police officers as we don’t have enough security officers who are certified to fill all the open positions,” said Bruskotter. “Staffing for the new department will be brought in line with the overall plan for the department through attrition. Meaning that we will fill some positions as security officers retire or resign to accept a new job whether that be with UF or another employer.”

In a part of the frequently asked questions portion of the informational power point, it says that converting to a hybrid department “provides an environment where students can be students and learn from mistakes rather than paying a heavy price that may adversely impact their chances for employment upon graduation.”

Bruskotter provided some insight to this claim.

“A University police officer can provide some discretionary jurisdiction. This way students can make a mistake and it not be on their records. This is helpful for those who have stricter fields of study such as criminal justice and education,” said Bruskotter.

Emsweller provided some additional insight to this, and believes that the transition will cut down on students potentially being affected by their decisions.

“Given that the Police Officers will be part of the UF staff and community, there will be an expectation that the focus be to serve, protect, and educate. That being said, the intent will always be to assist, de-escalate, and prevent further harm. We feel this approach will allow for the resolution of situations, and reduce the risk of any student being negatively impacted by their own actions,” said Emsweller.

An example of this discretion that Bruskotter provided was that if a student were to be caught with underage drinking walking back home to a campus house, some discretion could be provided if they are stopped by a University police officer instead of a Findlay police officer. When students are stopped by Findlay police, there is no discretion, according to Bruskotter.

“This is not a way to crack down on students. We’re not going to be actively patrolling campus to get students in trouble. We are more concerned about the population outside of campus and providing a safe environment for faculty, staff and students,” said Bruskotter.

According to Emsweller, more details about the student focus groups will be shared to the UF community within the next several weeks.

 

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