The main distinction is that peace officers’ powers of arrest are limited to the scope of their University duties, and limited to the University’s geographic boundaries and the property that is immediately adjacent to University property. Peace officers and Public Safety officers have the same general duties except that peace officers are able to arrest for a criminal offense.
The Department of Public Safety is comprised of both Public Safety officers and peace officers. We pride ourselves on understanding our institution, providing a variety of services and maintaining safe campuses, so our community can learn, teach, heal, and work.
Not every Public Safety officer is a peace officer. A peace officer has the sworn authority to make arrests within University properties and areas that are immediately adjacent to University boundaries. Peace officers undergo additional extensive training—at least 600 hours of classroom and field training—in topics including NYS laws, diversity and disability awareness, de-escalation techniques, and dealing with emotionally distraught persons. Then, they can be sworn in as peace officers.
Learn more about peace officers and the role they play on our campuses.
Some of our sworn peace officers are armed. These armed peace officers are stationed on the Medical Center Campus and largely concentrated in Strong Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department.
Public Safety has deployed armed peace officers at the Medical Center since January 2017; prior to that date there were no armed Public Safety officers. In April 2019, then-President Richard Feldman further approved some limited response by armed DPS supervisors to any campus. These supervisors can respond to River Campus and other campuses as long as they can articulate a reason for being there, including but not limited to assisting with a possible life-saving action or participating in an emergency response. Routine patrols or working a post on campus are not authorized for armed supervisors.
Armed peace officers receive a minimum of 96 additional hours of training on top of Public Safety and peace officer training, which must be completed in order to become certified by New York State to carry the handguns while working as sworn peace officers. They are trained and certified by New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Yes. This sworn authority allows a peace officer to assist an individual under provisions in the NYS Mental Health Law. It’s important to note that Public Safety officers work closely with the University Counseling Center (UCC). UCC counselors are available 24/7 for officers to consult with in real-time on any mental health crisis.
No. Public Safety is able to divert most minor offenses involving students and employees into the judicial and disciplinary processes at the University. Domestic violence cases are the exception: New York State law requires that for certain designated offenses, persons in a domestic relationship as defined in the law must be arrested, even if the victim does not desire criminal action.
Public Safety offers departments and student groups training sessions on a range of topics.