As the first year of the Lead Officer Program begins to draw to a close, students, administrators and members of UR Security alike are pleased with the progress the program has made.
“It has been a very successful year and we have received nothing but positive feedback,” Lead Officer Jimmy Teckle said. “We are all very appreciative.”
The Lead Officer Program, which was put in place last summer, recognizes nine exemplary security officers and gives them specific assignments and areas to work in over the course of the year. By keeping these officers in the same location for a year, the goal is to take a more community-based approach to patrolling and increase the rapport between security officers and students, as well as University officials, employees and patients.
Furthermore, it is hoped that the program will serve to raise the standards within UR Security by rewarding the hard work of individuals as well as their role as mentors to their peers.
The officers were chosen through a competitive application process, which included interviews with Director of UR Security Walter Mauldin who then personally chose the nine Lead Officers. The areas patrolled by Lead Officers include the River Campus, the Eastman School of Music campus and the Strong Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, Department of Psychiatry and Methadone Clinic.
According to Mauldin, the program has already led to strong relationships between the Lead Officers and their individual areas.
“They have gotten a regular reinforcement from the Department to find things that they can make better and a lot of positive feedback and support from the areas they have been assigned,” Mauldin said. “We have received solid feedback from the fraternities, the Dean of Students Office, Residential Life, Student Affairs, Strong and Eastman along with other departments within the University. The officer gets to take a pride and ownership of his community and the community takes pride in their officer.”
On the River Campus, students are very pleased with the relationships they have built with Lead Officers Matthew Ras and Jerry Burrows, whom they see almost every day. Fraternity President’s Council President and junior Scott Hughey has noticed a positive change in the dynamic between the fraternities and UR Security.
“Because we see them and we know them, we have begun to work really well with the current officers,” Hughey said. “This is the first time I’ve seen the relationship between Security and fraternities going so well. People used to seem to think that their job really was just to bust students for drinking. But since this fall, the bad relationship has changed to something great, which is good to see.”
The Lead Officer Program has also been very beneficial to student groups such as the Medical Emergency Response Team.
“The program has strengthened our relationships with individual security officers that we work with on every emergency call,” Director of River Campus MERT and junior Daniel Nassau said. “It affects the quality of care we provide because the increased familiarity helps everyone… involved work together.”
The relationships developed between Lead Officers and students have also led to collaborative work on student programming. Currently, Hughey and Officer Ras are working together to create a program for students on sexual assault prevention. Ras attributes the Lead Officer Program with allowing him to take this initiative.
“The program has enabled me to do programming I wouldn’t have done or thought of as a normal officer on patrol because you don’t have time to deal with those things,” Ras said. “The flexibility that has been given to me has given me time to work with the students and develop this program.”
However, as the year-long Lead Officer term draws to a close, there is concern about the transition into next years’ program because, come May, the application process is reopened to the entire department.
“I think continuity within this program is the most important part because of the familiarity that it builds,” Nassau said. “I believe that the Lead Officers this year have built good relationships with the student body and they have worked hard to get where they are now. I worry about the entire program being reset and new officers being put in place.”
But Mauldin is not concerned; instead, he wants to expose many officers to the increased responsibilities that come with being a Lead Officer. Further, he points out that it is impossible to know this far in advance what will happen over the reapplication process – some Lead Officers may stay the same, some may be moved to different posts and some Security Officers may be made new Lead Officers.
“There has got to be continuity from year to year, and we will manage that,” Mauldin said. “If the current Lead Officers are not in the same role, they will move next door, they will always stay in the neighborhood.”
Teckle echoed Mauldin’s sentiment.
“The rapport that has been built isn’t going to be broken. It is Mauldin’s vision to expose everyone in Security to this highly successful program,” Teckle said.
Despite any possible transitional difficulties, everyone agrees the program is doing well and should continue.
“This is a good thing, and I think students know that,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said. “It makes us more of a college community to know who it is we are working with.”
Nassau agrees that this is an initiative that is beneficial for all students involved.
“From a student standpoint, I think it is an extremely important program to keep because even outside of MERT, students are more comfortable approaching these Lead Officers because they are familiar with them and see them on campus,” Nassau said.
Mauldin is pleased with the success of the program and is excited for its future.
“I think the Lead Officer Program has been very, very successful,” Mauldin said. “The key things that have occurred are our very best officers are in roles that connect them directly with students and in departments that have critical care or critical service needs. After a year, if we are looking for another officer to help with the program, the continuity is there, the officers are there, nobody is going anywhere.”
Jarrett is a member of the class of 2009.