Review spurs policing changes
By Colleen MacPherson
The recently released external review of campus safety was not always easy reading for Bob Ferguson, but the director of Security Services has come away from the experience of having his department under the microscope more committed than ever to high-profile policing.
Security Services was a major focus of the review which was called following an attack at the Little Stone Schoolhouse last July and a reported attack late in the year in the Arts Building. The Calgary consultants looked at all areas of security operations, from resources and programs, to training and leadership.
“There were honest truths that maybe you don’t like”, he said about the review, “but it doesn’t matter whether I like it.” What matters, he said, is that security staff see the recommendations in the report as “an opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do for the community”, and that is keeping the campus safe.
As a result of the review, Security Services will shift its focus from traffic and parking enforcement to community policing with special constables walking established beats on campus. “Community-based (policing) programs are very good,” he said, “but there just weren’t enough of us. We had our fingers in too many pies, going in too many directions. Once parking enforcement is gone, we can concentrate more on buildings, concentrate on visibility which is exactly where we want to be.”
Tony Whitworth, vice-president of finance and resources, told a news conference following the release of the report that parking will become the responsibility of a new entity, possibly a contracted organization. Parking revenue and contracted security work contribute $800,000-$900,000 annually to the department’s $1.8-million budget.
Ferguson said Security Services staff have already divided the campus into five patrol zones with officers from each shift assigned to particular zones. There have also been walking beats set up for both day and night shifts. While this will not mean a reduction in security vehicles (the department has five), the director said “we could use more staff”, particularly dispatchers for each team of five officers. There will also need to be a staff person hired to handle the implementation of another recommendation in the report – that closed circuit television cameras on campus be monitored from a single location.
Other recommendations for the department include:
The report also recommends the department relocate from the Maintenance Building to Place Riel. Ferguson is enthusiastic about such a move and the creation of a “storefront” operation open round the clock.
He disagrees, however, with the suggestion the department give up enforcing the Highway Traffic Act on campus. Controlling speed limits is not, he said, a major focus of the department “but it is important. If we don’t do it, is just creates another public safety issue. We just need to do it smarter” by concentrating on specific problem areas on campus, and only when time permits.