At a March 18 ceremony at the University of Rochester, 27 members of the Department of Public Safety became sworn peace officers after completing the New York State Campus Public Safety course. This second graduating class now completes the group of Public Safety staff members planned to serve in this role.
"Since introducing the University's first group of trained peace officers on campus, we have already seen the benefits of having broadened on-campus law enforcement powers," said Public Safety Chief Mark Fischer. "Peace officers are adding greater efficiency to our department's prevention and response services, as well as to our training and preparedness to provide the safest possible campus."
University peace officers have the expanded authority to make arrests due to the commission of a felony, misdemeanor, or other breach of peace based on probable cause, and can make mental health arrests—an authority that allows peace officers to intervene promptly in mental health emergencies to facilitate quick transport. They are able to conduct proper warrantless searches and have the power to take safe custody of firearms. They also have access to the governmental criminal information systems in conducting their investigations.
To become peace officers, candidates undertake an additional 400 hours of specialized training, above and beyond the 500-plus hours of basic and in-service training University Public Safety officers receive. They are trained to carry batons and pepper gel as defensive weapons when dealing with potentially dangerous situations; they do not carry firearms or tasers.
The establishment of peace officers at the University has been a multiyear process and was made possible by legislation signed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in December 2012. The first group of peace officer candidates was sworn in on March 28, 2013 and received their training in the following five months. This first class graduated in fall 2013, at the same time the second class was sworn in.
"We are very gratified with the outcomes of our sworn peace officer program," said Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and CFO Ron Paprocki. "The training our new peace officers receive is rigorous and really adds great value to the safety services provided to students, employees, patients, and visitors on our campuses."
Public Safety's services cover a large geographic footprint, including River Campus, the Medical Center, South Campus, Eastman School of Music, and the Memorial Art Gallery. In addition, officers are assigned or patrol University facilities located in the Riverview and Brooks Landing areas, as well as University properties throughout the region.
The total department is comprised of 134 full-time equivalent staff that provides uniformed patrol services, investigative services, crime prevention, victim assistance, workplace violence services, and specialized programs tailored to specific campus needs.
To read more about peace officers at the University, visit http://publicsafety.rochester.edu/poqanda.html.