On Wednesday evening, the University of Rochester Security Officer’s Association entered into negotiations with the University, with one of its goals being to have the entire force trained as peace officers. Part of this proposed training will be more responsibility to detain subjects and carry self-defense weapons.

In April, we advocated giving our security officers the training necessary to obtain this peace officer status, citing the dangerous situations these people face every day and will continue to face as the River Campus expands into the 19th Ward. Security officers are not currently equipped with even the most basic means of defending themselves in the face of violence, which is especially problematic because they are always called onto a scene as first responders.

This change is even more appropriate now, considering the recent rise in violent crime and gang activity around the UR campuses. Moreover, we are becoming a larger institution, and with that comes a more pressing need for a security force that can handle an array of situations.

The University is now being presented with the opportunity to make this change. It has shown a clear willingness to cooperate with workers’ unions and find fair compromises in the recent weeks, and it should continue this with respect to the security union.

Though the union is currently asking that all officers be trained as peace officers, it may be more prudent to reserve this training to the lead officers – and make more permanent the lead officer program – since the current officers weren’t hired under the pretext that they would have this kind of authority. Accordingly, the University might also consider hiring new officers that already have this training to serve in addition to our existing security force.

The decision to transition to peace officers may not be a popular one given the recent tasing incident at the University of Florida, but instances of such abuse are few and far between. What’s more important is ensuring that our security personnel are fully able to protect themselves and the UR community.

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