Over the summer, Wilkes University announced that changes would be occurring within the Public Safety Department as students returned for the Fall 2014 semester. In June, students received an email from University President Patrick Leahy informing the campus community of the decision to create a hybrid public safety force.
These changes were part of a series of suggestions by the firm, Margolis, Healy & Associates, which specializes in campus security.
The biggest of these changes is the arming of specially trained, public safety officers through Act 120 training. However, the university was also encouraged to improve other security measures such as adding dispatchers to the department, increasing the visibility of public safety officers on campus, implementing an improved security camera system, and hiring the new public safety director, Christopher Jagoe.
Joining the university in March 2014, Jagoe commented that through these changes, “We’ll be building upon what we already have.” Jagoe also finds it important that not only is he the director of the department, but he is still an officer therefore if issues arise, he will be actively involved. Jagoe came to the university with 30 years of experience from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he policed not only College Park but the city of Maryland as well. Jagoe was the Assistant Chief of Police and has worked within and closely with patrol, investigation, as well as other components of the department.
Along with Jagoe’s commitment to bettering the force, he explained that the goal of the changes is to make the department more accountable and transparent.
Students will be able to see these changes within the department through the physical changes of the Public Safety office.
Among the changes include a conference and training room where officers will be debriefed on information as they go about their duties for the day. A television will also be added to this room so the officers will be up to date on local news and happenings.
The communication center will also be updated to be a more efficient working space. The reception area will be well lit so students will be able to access the department even in the evenings. The communications center will be a secured space, with only access being granted to those with “proximity pass set up”. The functions within the center will also be centralized.
Within the communications center, Jagoe explained that the university will also be implementing new technology into the department to increase security. This technology includes the installing of two TV banks with 55 inch televisions to view the campus. Accompanying this, the camera systems will be converted to digital systems as well as, the increase of cameras near UCOM, 141 South and Towers.
Other spaces within the department will also be updated such as an evidence room, report room, interview room, and facilities to accommodate officers who have been on duty.
Within the report room, the department has implemented a new CADRMS, Computer Aided Dispatch Records Management System. This upgrade will allow officers to file reports more efficiently and also improve data manageability.
Jagoe will also be working closely with Justin Kraynack of Risk and Compliance Management. Jagoe says they will be taking an “all hazards approach” when dealing with any issues which may impact the campus community. This approach is not limited to crime but also weather emergencies as well.
The amount of officer visibility on campus was also increased as part of these changes to the department. Jagoe commented that the officers will be more “approachable and engaged in the community.”
In order to facilitate this, the department has acquired new bikes, helmets, vehicles, and uniforms.
“The goal is to be best in class,” Jagoe said.
Although many changes have taken place, there is still more to come.
“We’re pretty happy with what we’re seeing right now… and we’re not even done yet,” said Jagoe.
Of these changes, Jagoe said that the upgrades to the department will work in “memorializing policy and procedure.” He hopes, in establishing written guidelines for missions, goals, and the specific roles within the department, this will be achieved.
The department will also be upgrading its website so the campus community will know what services are available from the department and Jagoe hopes to create a social media presence to increase the message to the community.
The theme the department is trying to get across through these changes is the, “We are public safety message,” Jagoe said. This message encourages the entire campus community, not just the department, to take an active role in campus safety.
As for the current changes, it will be a few more weeks for completions however, the university has been working with the department to ensure that updates will be continuously made to give the highest quality services available.