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Public Safety Review Board recommends policy amendment

June 16, 2017
University of Rochester Peace Officer // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

On May 16, the Public Safety Review Board met to continue its work providing regular assessments of the Department of Public Safety’s policies and procedures. At the May meeting, the PSRB recommended an amendment to the peace officer program that will permit armed Public Safety supervisors—nine sergeants, six lieutenants, and one captain—to respond as needed to incidents on any campus that may require a possible life-saving action or emergency response.

Currently, these 16 Public Safety supervisors have oversight for officers on all the University’s campuses, including armed peace officers stationed at the Medical Center. As it is currently written in the procedures, these armed supervisors can only respond in person to calls for service on the Medical Center campus, or elsewhere if the call indicates the presence or threatened use of a weapon. If there is an emerging critical incident on River Campus or at the Eastman School campus, they cannot be a first responder or assist, even if they are in closest proximity to the scene and even if the situation requires a life-saving action.

Public Safety officers are assigned to fixed posts throughout the University community, whereas supervisors are assigned to roving mobile units.  Because these supervisors are mobile, they are often the most readily available to respond to breaking emergencies throughout the University community.

Since February, there have been several critical incidents on both River Campus and at the Eastman School of Music where an armed supervisor had to stand aside from the response. Based on these circumstances, Public Safety leadership requested that the PSRB review the policy and consider an amendment to allow these supervisors to use their judgment to respond to any campus area when a rapid and effective response is required for life preservation, or to provide immediate needed assistance or officer oversight as necessary.

The PSRB recommended the adoption of this change to University President and CEO Joel Seligman, who approved it effective immediately. The amendment includes the provision that any decision made by an armed supervisor to respond away from the Medical Center will be reviewed by Public Safety command staff, as well as the PSRB to ensure the appropriateness of the action.

The PSRB is chaired by University Trustee Francis L. Price ’74, ’75S (MBA).  For board membership and more information, visit: http://www.rochester.edu/president/public-safety-review-board/.

 

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