[media-credit name=”Peter O’Neill” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]By Nicholas Slater and Kim Kerremans
The Department of Public Safety is hiring three new officers to add to the staff of roughly 70 that patrols campus 24/7.
Weeks of hard work go into becoming a Public Safety officer that many people do not understand. A lot of things go on behind the scenes, according to Training Officer Bradley Bopp.
Public Safety’s Field Training Officer Program is modeled after a typical law enforcement training program.
“Most of the job is done making your own decisions, and we want to make sure they make the right decisions,” Administrative Lieutenant Don DiStefano said. “That’s why we’re so serious about the training process.”
Becoming a Public Safety officer begins like any other job on campus, with an application. Following the application process, accepted officers must complete a seven-week long field training program.
During week one, or Orientation Week, officers-in-training are exposed to handcuffing, foam spray, use of force and a variety of campus policies. Orientation Week also includes becoming acquainted with the layout of the university and a newly added I.T. training session.
“Things were falling through the cracks,” Bopp said. “(An officer’s) phone was working, and all of a sudden it wasn’t.”
The I.T. training makes sure each officer can access the necessary networks.
The next five weeks are spent training with three different Field Training Officers.
“All Field Training Officers went through the same certifications a police officer goes through,” DiStefano said.
At this point, the officer-in-training will spend their final week with their Primary Training Officer, who they began training with. During this week, the Primary Training Officer will assess the progress and areas of improvement of the officer-in-training, according to Distefano.
“We’re going through knowing where every fire panel is, all the mechanical rooms,” Bopp said, “(Students) know the names of the buildings. We have to know the ins and the outs.”
All officers that carry firearms on campus have a separate application from unarmed officers, according to DiStefano.
“All the officers we hire that are going to have a gun, that are armed, have to be retired cops,” DiStefano said.
All armed officers are required to complete a psychological evaluation as part of the application process.
Every armed officer on campus has between 12 and 40 years of experience in law enforcement. Out of around 70 officers, 21 are armed.
Even after the intense seven-week program, Public Safety Officers are always training.
Public Safety has recently made advancements by equipping each officer with a body camera.
“We’re ahead of the curve,” Bopp said, “Our job is to protect (students) and the property of the university.”
Public Safety also takes pride in the relationships it has with other local law enforcement. “We have a really good relationship with Hamden Police and New Haven Police and North Haven Police,” DiStefano said. “We have a really good working relationship with them.”
Hamden Police frequently helps Public Safety with traffic and crowd control, as well as security at big sporting events across campus.
Students feel as though it is important for Public Safety to go through training.
“If there’s an emergency, they have to know what to do,” freshman Lisa Ferrara said.
Public Safety is on campus whenever the students are on campus. There are officers that work during the school year, when students are on campus. Then, there are officers that work while students are on break. Nevertheless, there is always a team of officers looking to keep Quinnipiac safe.
Students say that having Public Safety officers on campus make them feel secure and safe.
“I have night classes and I like knowing they are a phone call away when I get freaked out at night walking back to my dorm,” freshman Amanda DeSero said.
DeSero feels that Public Safety does not interfere too much with student life.
“I think they have a good balance,” DeSero said, “If it’s urgent, then you know they’ll be there, but if it’s not they won’t do anything unnecessary.”
Public Safety officers will not hesitate to intervene when necessary, though.
“We’re not here to ruin anybody’s time in college, (but) when we have to rely on our training and everything, that’s when we do it,” Bopp said.