Bruskotter says a flexible timeline is necessary
By Kevin Schrock and Sarah Stubbs
After narrowing the search down to two potential candidates last November, The University of Findlay is back to square one in its search for a Chief of Police to head the emerging hybrid Campus Security-Campus Police Department after neither candidate was hired.
UF’s Board of Trustees approved of this conversion on Oct. 28, 2014. Since then, little progress has been made.
Currently, UF’s security department only has security officers, not trained police officers. The Findlay Police Department must be called in anytime there is a criminal issue. When the hybrid convergence is completed, this will no longer be the case.
Last September, Matthew Bruskotter, director of environmental safety, security, and emergency management and Dave Emsweller, vice president of student affairs, told the Pulse that the goal was to have the Chief selected and in place by Jan. 4, 2016.
Bruskotter explained that when a position gets denied by a once-hopeful candidate, that process can be significantly slowed down.
“Once we get a Chief hired we can map out how we want to go about hiring the police officers who fill in those slots,” said Bruskotter. “We want to make sure we do this very deliberately and that we hire the right people.”
The University is looking for a Police Chief who understand how a campus works and who will be an educator before he or she is a police officer.
Kris Hayward, a senior criminal justice major who lived on campus his first two years at the University, expressed some initial concern with the idea of having a campus police department.
“It would be a different atmosphere around campus for the first few years,” said Hayward. “My main concern is that they aren’t going out looking for trouble, simply dealing with issues if they do arise.”
It seems Hayward and the University are on the same page.
“We want to make sure students can be students on our campus,” said Bruskotter. “Protecting our students is our number one goal which is why hiring the right people is so important to us and that’s why we have been so flexible with our timeline.”
Hayward also understands the fact that a police department on campus has more power than the current security team does.
“Campus police would have the ability to make arrests for alcohol violations and not just issue fines,” said Hayward. “I’m afraid this could raise some bad publicity for the University and potentially keep people from coming here.”
Although campus police would have the power to make arrests, Bruskotter does not want students to be concerned with the transition.
“We obviously have to operate under the requirements of the law but there are areas where the officer is allowed some level of discretion,” said Bruskotter. “We want to make sure that they understand that it is okay to utilize that discretion and if we can handle things administratively rather than through a court system, we would like to do that if we can.”
With the current timeline for the campus police department now set for at least a year out, the campus security department will remain as is for the near future.
Still, as much as the University wants to remain proactive in the process, hiring the right people is goal number one, according to Bruskotter.