Why has Wilkes University made recent changes to its public safety operation?
Campus safety has been a priority for Wilkes President Patrick Leahy since he joined the University in 2012. Under his leadership, Wilkes commissioned a study by Margolis Healy & Associates, a nationally recognized consultant about safety issues at colleges and K-12 schools. The changes were based on their recommendations to enhance security at our already safe campus.
What recommendations made by the consultants have been implemented?
Many of Margolis Healy’s recommendations were implemented. These include:
- hiring a new public safety director. Wilkes has hired Christopher Jagoe, a senior police administrator with nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience. He comes to Wilkes from the University of Maryland at College Park.
- adding dedicated dispatchers to the public safety department;
- increasing visibility for officers patrolling campus; and
- enhancing the security camera system.
Why did Wilkes decide to arm some of its public safety officers?
The decision to arm officers grew out of recommendations in their report for enhancements to the public safety function at Wilkes. It was not made as a reaction to any specific incidents or crimes.
Is this decision being made because Wilkes is not a safe campus?
We believe we have a safe campus but we are also committed to continuing to improve our campus. This decision will enhance our already safe campus with increased security. The decision does not have to do with any specific crime incidents on campus or nearby.
How many public safety officers does Wilkes employ and how many will be armed?
We have 16 public safety officers. Initially five officers – who have Act 120 certification – will be armed. Most importantly, these five officers are veteran law enforcement staff with years of experience. By summer 2015, we plan to have three more officers receive Act 120 certification and carry a firearm.
What is Act 120 training?
Act 120 training is required in the state of Pennsylvania for municipal police officers. Act 120 training requires more than 700 hours of comprehensive training covering every aspect of law enforcement and firearm management.
How soon will officers begin to be armed?
The first five officers – all who already have Act 120 training – will be armed during summer 2014. Another three will be armed after they complete Act 120 training, with an anticipated completion by summer 2015.
Does this decision change the University’s relationship with the Wilkes-Barre City Police Department?
Our decision requires us to continue our strong partnership with the Wilkes-Barre City Police Department and the police departments in other nearby communities.
Was the campus community involved in the decision-making process?
After the consultants made their report, President Leahy held many meetings with members of the campus community – faculty, staff and students – to gather their input and answer their questions. Most campus constituents were in favor of the decision and in favor of the changes to public safety.