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Security Changes at UR
Rochester, N.Y.-Wednesday will be the culmination of many things for those in public safety and the rest of the University of Rochester campus community. A graduation ceremony will be held for dozens of new peace officers.
The group of fifty officers completed 400 hours of training over the past five months, according to a campus spokesperson.
"It's not for us having status per se, it's for us to serve the university better, but having the status gives us opportunities we didn't have before," said Walter Mauldin, Director of Public Safety for the University of Rochester.
Beyond the new designation they will have the power to arrest people, an action only city police and sheriffs could perform prior to this change. Peace officers will not be armed.
"It makes it harder in the sense that a lot of people know we have the power of arrest and nobody really wants to be arrested," said Nicholas Bush, a soon-to-be peace officer.
Bush has been with campus public safety for four years, and said the power to arrest is also helpful because peace officers do not always have to wait for RPD.
"As a girl especially, we've had a lot of cases of insecurity, both in and off campus and if we can do something to try and reduce these instances, I'm in full support," said Lendsey Achudi, an international student at the U of R.
Beyond arresting powers, peace officers are able to bring people having mental health crisis into protective custody, gain access to federal criminal information and enter police reports into RPD's system in real time, according to Mauldin. The do not have to wait for a police officer to arrive to complete paperwork. Public safety will install new lap tops in its vehicles to help enhance reporting at the scene of crime, said Mauldin.
Reason for adding peace officers
A commission made of staff and students was formed in 2010 to study safety issues at the university.
The commission determined that crime had not increased significantly on campus, but there was an increase in calls for service leading to recommendations of peace officers, according to a school spokesperson.
Less than two months after the commission was formed, an undergraduate student named Jeffrey Bordeaux was stabbed to death during a fight in a fraternity house on campus by fellow student, Darren Venable.
The court found that prosecutors failed to prove that Venable acted out of anything but self-defense.
Mauldin, who has been in campus public safety for four decades said peace officers would not have made a difference as campus safety arrived to the fraternity within one minute and were able to intervene.
"What I think is important is that we have so many instances where we need to make sure things go ok," said Mauldin.
"A lot of things almost happen, but because we are able to arrive properly, intervene, separate disputing parties, if necessarily take some kind of action, the more we are able to do that quickly, the better able we are to make sure it does not accelerate and not become a more dangerous situation," added Mauldin.
A ceremony to honor the sworn peace officers will take place Wednesday. They will officially begin their work on October 1st.
Other local schools
Monroe Community College, The College at Brockport and SUNY Geneseo are among the other local schools with peace officers or police.