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University of West Georgia
Public Safety: Annual Report FY02
The Department of Public Safety is responsible for providing police protection, transportation services and parking control to the University Community. The police operation serves the campus 24 hours a day, preventing crime through constant patrol, presenting educational programs and investigating and prosecuting those who commit crimes on campus. The Parking Services Division provides reliable intra-campus shuttle service to all facilities on campus. The Division is also tasked with providing safe and reliable transportation to student groups traveling off campus to participate in athletic, academic or social events. Parking control personnel, through enforcement of the University’s parking code and maintenance of the traffic and parking signage, keep traffic flowing smoothly through campus.
Department Statement of Goals
Public Safety seeks to provide a safe and functional campus, which allows students and faculty to participate in teaching and research without fear of crime or disturbance. Public Safety also seeks to provide through a functional shuttle service and parking enforcement, the orderly and rapid movement of people throughout the campus. By maximizing the use of existing parking facilities through an efficient transportation system, the University is better able utilize its limited resources to support the academic mission of the University.
Departmental Statement of Outcomes
The level of criminal victimization on campus remained relatively stable during the past year. We feel this is due to the improvements in lighting, access control, and emergency communications, which the University has invested in during the last five years. Constant police patrol and the aggressive prosecution of criminal cases also work to keep the campus safe. Most students, who have expressed an opinion, seem to feel that the campus is safe. The rider ship for the University shuttle system continues to grow. More students are riding the shuttle and utilizing the outlying lots.
The Department Statement of Outcomes / An Example
During the past year during the heaviest class times of the day, the shuttles were full and to often had to leave students to wait for another bus. The matter was discussed with the Student Government Association who requested another bus be added to the schedule and run as an express from Tyus to the UCC. It was determined that this would better utilize the Tyus Lot and pull traffic away from the congested north end of the campus. A new bus has been purchased and will begin its run in fall of 2002.
Health of the Department
During the past year we were three police positions short due to the budget freeze. As a result, the number of police officers working the campus fell below the number, which, we feel, is needed to provide adequate coverage of the campus. Overtime was utilized when necessary but this is a limited option for providing shift coverage. Eventually we were able to fill two of the positions but were forced to permanently eliminate a police position to pay for the mandated budget cut. This is on top of the redirection of funds from two and three years ago which cost the police side of the budget $30,000. We have not received any additional funding on the non-personnel side of the budget though we have instituted several new programs, which have significant costs. An example are the emergency phones which cost over $3,000 to operate annually, plus another two to three thousand in repairs. Student enrollment continues to increase but we have two less police positions than we had in 1993. As our population grows we need to add police officers but have been unable to do so. Public Safety also continues to deal with retention of personnel issues. Local police agencies have significantly enhanced their salary structure in recent years. Through the efforts of the Vice President we were able to increase our base salary by approximately $1500 per officer last year. However, we still lag far behind most agencies we compete with for police personnel. With the money that was returned to us from the original 5% budget cut, we had sufficient funds to hire a part-time dispatcher for the morning watch. This will eliminate the need for a police officer to dispatch when the full-time dispatcher is off.
The Department continues to improve in technology, training, and planning. The events surrounding September 11th changed our focus and we are now involved in the rewrite of our emergency plans, with an emphasis on issues, which, had not, been included in previous plans. For example, a campus mass inoculation plan and an anthrax response plan was written and distributed to campus leaders and also has been placed on the Public Safety Web site. The recent budget freeze did result in significant year-end funds, which were utilized to enhance the University’s emergency response. With these funds we were able to replace a number of the Departments computers, printers and copier. We added to our radio system inventory, purchased gas masks for the officers, and began construction of an emergency command center. The gas mask is capable of filtering out anthrax and completes the officers riot gear. (In previous years we purchased helmets and shields.)
Last fall the weather radar system was updated and all dispatch personnel were trained on its use. This update greatly improves the systems functionality and our ability to forecast severe weather on the campus. We now require the dispatchers to provide the weather forecast to all on-coming personnel so that they are familiar with the system and the officers know what to expect on their shifts.
We have provided them with riot training and will have a refresher course on an annual basis. The officers were also certified on two non-lethal weapon systems. One is effective for controlling an individual while the second is effective on both individuals and large groups. All dispatchers were trained in Emergency Medical Dispatching and this training has become mandatory for all future dispatchers.
As new equipment comes on line, we have also updated our policies to incorporate its use. For example, we now provide small gun safes to each officer who we provide a weapon. This action was taken to lessen the potential for a child to obtain and use their parent’s issued weapon. The Department’s weapon policy was altered to make use of the safe mandatory with severe disciplinary action noted for failure to comply.
In Criminal Investigations we reassigned an officer to improve case turn-around. The existing investigators were overwhelmed and the reassigned officer has helped to more quickly follow-up on cases, especially those involving threats to the students. Two of the investigators were sent to Kentucky for sexual assault investigations and new equipment has been added to enhance their ability to process evidence.
In the past year Public Safety has provided the following training to its staff.
1) Sent two staff members to Boston for training on the new records management system
2) Sent two investigators to the Southern Police Institute for training in sexual assault investigation
3) Sent the Parking Supervisor to Kentucky for training in Parking Management
4) The Department’s firearms instructors attended the annual meeting of the Georgia Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors. They also attended certification training on the use of the Pepperball weapon system.
5) The Director attended the International Chiefs of Police Conference in Toronto Canada. He also attended the winter and summer conferences of the Georgia Chiefs of Police in Valdosta and Savannah respectively. He also attended the Governor’s Emergency Management Conference in Jekyll Island as well as the quarterly meetings of the Georgia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
6) All patrol officers received at minimum their 20 hours of required training.
7) Most bus drivers and PCO’s were certified in CPR, 1st Aid and infectious disease control. Those who did not attend will be trained when they return prior to the beginning of school.
Other Awards and Distinctions
In January of 2002 the Director was elected to serve as the President of the Georgia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators for 2003.