Public Safety to add Police Department



Sean Doherty

Villanova University announced Monday, Oct. 19 sweeping changes to the current pub- lic safety model, by instituting a Villanova police department that will serve in tandem with the current public safety. Starting in the fall of 2016, Villanova’s 75-member public safety department will include 19 police offi- cers. The departure from the current model was not a move in response to the recent Philadelphia threat, but has been a two-year deliberation process designed to provide the Villanova community a greater sense of security in the event of an emergency situation. The decision to make this transfor- mation was made by University President, The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD via email to the student body. He stated to The Villanovan “As with any important decision, I thoughtfully and prayerfully considered all options and asked for input from a wide range of the Villanova community.”

This wide range of input consisted of a committee created by the President to inves- tigate the issue, as well as four community forums, feedback from an independent security consultant, multiple discussions with the Board of Trustees, and a survey dis- tributed to students, faculty, administration and staff. Director of Public Safety, David Tedjeske, said “it has been one of the most deliberate and thoughtful processes that I have ever been apart of.”

Another factor in the process cited in the University press release, “is nearly 70 percent of all colleges and universities nationwide have a police department, with 94 percent of those departments being armed.” This Department of Justice statistic displays that campuses around the nation see it as necessary to have law enforcement directly on site and have been credited with saving lives. Last year, when there was an active shooter at the Florida State University library, the campus police took down the shooter min- utes after they received the 911 call.

The plan to implement this has already begun, as the University is in search for these police officers. “We’re going to be as delib- erate and thoughtful in our selection and implementation process as we were in our decision making process,” said Tedjeske The search for officers will include background checks, psychological and physical screening, and a requirement of standard police specialized training.

Assistant Vice President for Government Relations and External Affairs, Chris Kovolski said “It is incredibly important for us to find the right fit for these positions, they could be members of our current public safety staff who have gone through the training that is required or members from the outside.”

These officers will “carry firearms and defensive equipment, including batons, handcuffs, bulletproof vests, pepper spray and body-worn cameras.” The officers also have authority to make arrests and conduct investigations like a standard police department.

This is not a dismissal of the current public safety, as only two to three police officers will be on duty in a given shift. They rest of the security on campus will be staffed by the current security guards. David Tedjeske stated, “the majority of our officers are going to remain as security officers” as well as “I don’t expect that the average student is going to notice a whole lot of change.”

This announcement has sparked fervent debate from the Villanova community, espe- cially among students. When asked about the police department senior business school student Curtis Doelling ’16 said, “At first I was hesitant to endorse it, but after learn- ing more of the finer details I think that it’s probably not a bad call in terms of student safety.”

Other university students chose to express their views on the recent decision with an announcement of a march in protest, set to occur tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 24. Students have rallied together via social media, announincg the protest with a Facebook page titled “March Against the Decision to Arm Public Safety.” The description of the event entails a march beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the steps of the St. Thomas of Villanova Church and will end at the Oreo. The event states that “the voice of Villanova students, faculty members, and other members of the community have not been heard in this decision. To represent this, the first thirty minutes of the protest will be silent. Any and all are welcome to stay past noon at the Oreoin protes, andit will be an opportunity to engage in dialogue on the issue.”