A new Department of Public Safety (DPS) patrol unit is set to roll out next month, coming in the wake of the kidnapping of two University seniors in early December.
The new unit, which will focus on giving DPS a visible and accessible presence on campus, will start patrolling on Sunday, Feb. 7, almost a month to the day after the students were abducted and held at gunpoint in an off-campus house.
UR President Joel Seligman announced the unit in a recent email to students, which discussed both the kidnapping and a Monroe County Grand Jury indictment against six defendants involved in the abduction.
In his email, Seligman called the kidnapping “an isolated and unusual set of circumstances” and emphasized that campus safety is a priority for his administration. Along with authorizing the unit, Seligman said he had begun reviewing what further steps can be taken to bolster campus safety and combat drug use on campus.
Seligman explained in a separate email that the patrol unit had already been in “advanced planning stages” before the kidnapping and the November drug robbery in Brooks Crossing it has been linked to by local media. Part of its goal is to expand the success of DPS’ Adopt-A-Hall program, which began in 2014 and assigns each residential hall its own officer. Director of Public Safety Mark Fischer said that recent events may have advanced the implementation of the unit by a week or two after DPS met with Seligman, but he noted that the platoon’s creation had already been in progress.
Fischer explained that the new unit, which will be active on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., is “going to be a proactive patrol that’s going to interact with the entire community to anticipate issues, to be visible, to hopefully address issues before they become a big problem.”
“It’s kind of a community-policing model, actually,” he added.
The officers in this new unit will work the same hours every day to help them develop relationships with the UR community, and students will be seeing officers’ faces nightly. “It’s a real go-to person,” Fischer said, not only for students but administrators, too.
“‘[A] fraternity house, for example, will get to know these guys,” he said, and “be able to call them and say, ‘Hey,’ if they have a question or an issue with someone.”
The unit will consist of three officers and three supervisors. Fischer said the selection process is ongoing and headed by Lieutenants Daniel Schermerhorn and Joseph Reed, the latter of which has been involved in student-centric programs for years.
Students should expect the new patrol officers to interact with them if they cross paths on campus, Fischer said, if only to ask how they’re doing. He stressed that these officers are not out to get students. Rather, they will support them and ensure their safety.