UF security and police convergence update

By Sarah Stubbs

@sarahxstubbs

On Oct. 28, 2014 The University of Findlay announced that the Board of Trustees had approved a conversion to a hybrid Campus Security-Campus Police Department.

Currently, UF’s security department is comprised of security officers, not trained police officers. Anytime there is a criminal issue on campus, the Findlay Police Department has to handle it. When the convergence is completed, this will no longer be the case.

While the process has been slow to start, the University has been improving security in other ways. Last spring, UF invested over $560,000 and replaced all old security cameras with newer, high-tech ones, and added more cameras, thus increasing surveillance.

“We are really just now starting this convergence process,” said Dave Emsweller, vice president of student affairs. “Last year was just a matter of getting it approved.”

Almost a year after approval, the University is beginning to accept applications for the police chief position but has yet to begin the application process for officers.

“The chief position is the one we want to fill first. Once we have that position filled, the chief will help us staff the remainder of the police positions as well as help us in the process of defining the scope of the department policies and procedures,” said Matthew Bruskotter, assistant dean of environmental safety, security, and emergency management.

The current UF Security staff is equipped with ten security officers. When the conversion is completed, the hybrid Campus Security-Campus Police Department will be made up of an estimated five security officers and five police officers as well as a captain and police chief, according to Emsweller.

Bruskotter and Emsweller said that the goal is to have the chief selected and in place by Jan. 4, 2016.

“We would love to have the chief in place by the start of the spring semester. Now whether that happens or not depends on the candidates, how they do once they come to campus, and if we can come to an agreement,” said Emsweller.

Emsweller said that UF is no hurry to fill this position because it is so important.

“We are going to take our time doing this. We’re not rushing to get something in place. We need to pick the right chief and once we pick the right chief, then we need to pick the right officers,” said Emsweller.

As for the hiring process, decisions will be made through the steering committee. This committee is a small group consisting of faculty, staff, and students. The two students currently serving on the steering committee are SGA President Nick Thompson and graduate student Lauren Brassfield.

“It’s a core group to overlook the process, but the job of the students in the steering committee is to invite others to participate in the process as it moves along. There are going to be sessions open to a variety of students once we start moving forward,” said Emsweller.

Focus groups open to any UF faculty member or student will be held once candidates for the chief position have been narrowed down by the steering committee.

Emsweller said he hopes to hold a couple open sessions in October and possibly a couple more in November. Students will be notified about these open sessions via UF update.

Steve Baum has worked for campus security since 2006, holding various titles during his time from sergeant to lieutenant to now the interim director of safety and security. Baum’s title will be captain once the convergence process is complete.

Baum and Emsweller want students to know that with the convergence in place, the general process already practiced will not be much different. The main differences will simply be the establishment of convenient access to law enforcement resources and response time for more serious incidents.

“If a student is seeking specific advice or counseling that involves police enforcement, the student will have someone right here. They won’t have to seek out the Findlay Police Department,” said Emsweller. “Since we are going with a blended approach, security and police officers, I would hope there won’t be people reacting as if it’s some enormous change. Hopefully it will be a nice, smooth transition.”

Emsweller and Baum said that UF has always had a great relationship with the Findlay Police Department, but the convenience of having police on campus will provide peace of mind when it comes to response time.

“Heaven forbid there be a shooter or a bomb threat, we want to have the proper resources here on campus. Findlay PD could be on the other end of town,” said Baum.

According to both Emsweller and Baum, one of the most important criteria while going through the hiring process with the chief and later on the police officers is the expectation to serve not just as law enforcement, but also as educators.

“This is a college campus. We want a hybrid police-security force that understands that they’re at an educational institution and they are here to help educate and to serve,” said Emsweller.

With being an educator comes approachability, according to Baum.

Baum said the University wants the police officers hired to be just as approachable as the current security officers are.

“We are going to encourage police officers to be interactive with the students just like the current security officers are. It’s important for them to be involved in the campus community,” said Baum.

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