Update on Villanova Public Safety Transition to Police Officers
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
Last fall, Father Peter announced that Villanova’s Department of Public Safety would become a police department with a combination of security and police officers starting in the Fall 2016 semester. A great deal of work has taken place since then to establish a University police department and a number of changes will take effect today, August 1. As we begin the transition, I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on the progress that has been made to-date and share additional details on some of the changes for our University community.
We engaged an industry-leading consultant to develop a formal implementation plan and met monthly with the Board of Trustees to ensure a smooth and productive transition for the University. The consultant and Board received information and updates about all aspects of the transition process, including the agreement recently finalized with Radnor Township regarding jurisdiction, protocols and procedures, as well as officer recruitment, selection and training.
As part of the transition, we established direct radio communication with the Delaware County 911 Center and local police departments. We also were certified as a criminal justice agency by the Pennsylvania State Attorney General, enabling us to access law enforcement and Department of Motor Vehicle databases to aid investigations. These were two significant limitations of our previous public safety model that no longer exist now that Villanova is transitioning to a University police department.
University Police Officers
As of today, Villanova officially has three police officers. That number gradually will increase throughout the fall, and I anticipate having between 7 and 10 police officers by the start of the spring semester. This phased-in approach is deliberate and will culminate with a total of 19 police officers being hired over the course of the next year. These officers will be distinguishable from their security officer counterparts by a modified uniform, shoulder patch, and a police badge, as well as by University Police signage on vehicles driven by police officers. Police vehicles will also have red and blue overhead lights.
In March, Father Peter shared that an Oversight Committee, chaired by Father Rob Hagan, was being established to act as a liaison between the Public Safety Department and the University community. This group—comprised of faculty, students, staff, administrators and alumni—serves in an advisory capacity regarding the safety and security needs of our community. It provides input on initiatives to enhance campus safety and offers recommendations concerning police department policies and practices. The committee also will receive and review suggestions and concerns from our community.
The committee began its monthly meetings in July and reviewed its charter and responsibilities. At this meeting, committee members also received an overview of the selection process for officers and were invited to participate in the next round of interviews for police officer candidates. In addition, the Committee Chair will meet annually with the Board of Trustees and Father Peter, and provide an annual report on the committee’s activities to Executive Vice President Ken Valosky. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to share any questions or concerns directly and confidentially with the Oversight Committee via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout the fall and spring semesters, members of the Public Safety department worked to connect and engage with community members to discuss the upcoming changes in the department. This outreach included “Dinner and Dialogue” events with students, a Q&A session with the University Senate’s Student Life Committee, presentations to the Faculty Congress and Staff Council, and participation in a Student Town Hall meeting. As we move forward, I know that many of you may have further questions regarding the transition. We plan to continue our outreach throughout this academic year and I also will provide monthly updates about the transition which will be posted to the Public Safety website.
I am pleased to share that the Department of Public Safety moved over the summer to its new home in Garey Hall. This location features the space and resources the department needs to serve the campus effectively. An open house is being planned to take place once the semester begins, and we look forward to showing you our new space.
I am grateful for the amount of feedback I have received and conversation that has occurred on campus around the transition. This is one of the benefits of a strong community like Villanova’s, and I look forward to our continued work together on these changes to public safety.
Director of Public Safety & Chief of Police
Villanova University Department of Public Safety
An IACLEA Accredited Agency
800 Lancaster Ave.
Villanova, PA 19085