Chancellor approves peace officer move
Chancellor approves peace officer moveMarch 01, 2004Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw has accepted a Feb. 11 recommendation of the Syracuse University Senate supporting peace officer status for selected SU Public Safety officers and has instructed Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Marlene Hall to move forward with planning.
Among their new capabilities, Public Safety officers commissioned to be peace officers can enforce orders of protection related to domestic violence, issue appearance tickets, issue tickets for vehicle and traffic violations, respond more appropriately to traffic accidents and transport the seriously mentally ill for medical assessment.
According to Hall, implementation will be carried out over three years and involve training of 47 DPS personnel and acquisition of new equipment, including sidearms, vehicle lights and sirens. In addition, the department will be able to access information from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Public Safety will work with the Syracuse Police Department and the New York Department of Criminal Justice Services to design a training curriculum that augments the 281-hour training academy for DPS officers already administered by the Syracuse Police Department. In addition, the current memorandum of understanding between DPS and the Syracuse Police Department will be assessed and updated to reflect the new status.
DPS supervisory staff will be the first to go through the peace officer curriculum, which will include drug and psychological screening and NCIC training. This first group will number 16 individuals, Hall says. Sixteen officers will be trained in the second year and 15 officers in the third year.
Training is not likely to begin before January 2005, and the campus should see the first fully trained and equipped peace officers by summer or fall of 2005.
Among the new equipment will be lights, sirens, in-car video and protection screens for 14 DPS vehicles; at least one motorcycle will be equipped with lights, siren and video capability. Trained DPS peace officers will be outfitted with sidearms, safety holsters, and gun locks and belts.
“The Department of Public Safety, working with community and law enforcement partners, has tried and will continue to use numerous methods to prevent and address crime on and near campus,” Hall says. “We see the peace officer status as a positive move that will significantly enhance our partnerships and services for the community. All of us at DPS, at peace officer and all other ranks, will continue to diligently contribute to a safe, diverse and vibrant quality of life that is so unique to the University community.”
In Oct. 2003, Gov. George E. Pataki signed a bill amending the state criminal procedure law enabling SU to designate selected DPS officers as peace officers, subsequent to the completion of training and all other qualifications.
The New York State Senate had previously passed the bill in May 2003, followed by the Assembly in June 2003, with the support of Sen. John A. DeFrancisco (R, Syracuse), Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli (D, Syracuse) and Assemblywoman Joan K. Christensen (D, Syracuse).
The legislation adds to the enhanced authority granted to SU Public Safety officers by state law in 1995. In 2001, a team of external consultants from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators reviewed DPS and recommended that the University explore peace officer status.
Since Pataki’s signing of the legislation, the peace officer status has been the subject of public forums, committee presentations and a Web site http://sunews.syr.edu/peaceofficer/index.html . Then, in its “Sense of the Senate” vote on Feb. 11, the University Senate approved the following motion: “The University Senate supports the plans to change some SU Public Safety personnel to Peace Officer status.”
The move to peace officer status was also recommended by the Student Association, the Residence Hall Association, College Crime Watch and the University Senate Committees on Student Life and Administrative Operations, as well as Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick, Syracuse Police Department Chief Dennis T. DuVal, DeWitt Police Chief Gene Conway, Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin E. Walsh, the Central New York Association of Chiefs of Police, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the Crouse-Marshall Business Improvement District.