UR Security Services has recently taken a more community-oriented approach to patrolling its ever-expanding jurisdiction. In an effort to improve the rapport between security officers and students as well as University employees and patients, Security initiated a Lead Officer Program toward the end of the summer. The program names nine exceptional officers and gives them an assignment to work with that keeps them in the same patrol area all year.
“Lead officers are, for us, staff who exemplify the best skills of the department,” Director of UR Security Walter Mauldin said. “They have strong skills in particular areas like working with students or patients.”
UR Security patrols all areas of University property including the River Campus, UR Medical Center, the Eastman School of Music, and South Campus.
By choosing these officers and giving them specific assignments, the goal is to have them become a greater part of the community surrounding their individual assignment and gain a more thorough knowledge of both the area and the people they are working with.
According to Lead Officer Jimmy Tekle, on the River Campus students would traditionally come in contact with many different officers who constantly rotate through areas of the University. With the new program, students now see a few reoccurring faces who, because of their familiarity and knowledge of the area, are more approachable.
“One of the benefits is to establish better lines of communication,” Tekle said. “Lots of students look for answers to questions that sometimes administrators and those assigned to answer those questions for them can’t be available to answer. Those questions will be answered honestly by us and if we don’t have an answer we have the access and resources to answer in a timely fashion. Another benefit is to establish a good rapport with the students of the University. Sometimes, they identify better with those they know rather than those officers who they don’t see every day. To foster a beneficial relationship is another benefit of this program. We’re here to tend to the students, anything they need and they feel they can’t go to the administration for – we’re also here to help.”
There is also hope that the program will raise the bar within Security Services. The program serves as recognition for the hard work of individual officers and also recognizes officers as potential mentors to their peers.
“There is nothing better than being able to reach out to these fine young men with their experience and validating them and saying ‘hey I encourage you,'” Security Supervisor Joe Reed said. “They know what they need to do, they understand the vision as set forth by the director as well as the supervisors because it’s not just our style, it’s the university standard and we are trying to meet that goal of excellence.”
Currently seven of the nine Lead Officers are in place. Three of these officers are primarily stationed on the River Campus. Officer Jimmy Tekle is the Lead Officer at Large, specializing in the River Campus and student activities.
Officer Matt Ras is the primary liaison with all student programs including the Students’ Association, the Medical Emergency Response Team and the Inter Fraternity Council. Officer Jerry Burrows primarily works weekends in student areas on the River Campus as well as on the Eastman campus.
Officer Tim Curtis works on the Eastman campus primarily in the evening. He also works with Eastman student affairs, academic affairs and with the Eastman Theater.
At Strong Memorial Hospital, Officer Keith McIntosh is the Lead Officer at the Strong Emergency Department during the day, working with senior nurses, patients and their families.
Officer Dan Schermerhorn is the Lead Officer for the nighttime shift at the Strong ED. Finally, Officer Chris Petricione, is the Lead Officer for the Department of Psychiatry during the day.
The two Lead Officer Positions still to be filled are one to fill the nighttime shift at the Department of Psychiatry and one to work at the Strong methadone clinic.
Students are excited about the Lead Officer Program and the opportunities it provides.
“Traditionally, students weren’t necessarily familiar with specific officers,” Director of River Campus MERT and junior Daniel Nassau said. “With this new program the officers are familiar faces – they are easier to talk to if you need anything. Particularly with MERT, it is easy to establish a good working relationship with an officer on scene if you are familiar with him.”
Reed believes that while the program is still very new it is an excellent step.
“This is a very positive thing for all involved – for our students, our staff at the hospital and for our internal department” he said.Jarrett can be reached at email@example.com.