UI public safety employs double the personnel compared to state's other schools


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The University of Iowa public safety personnel is now double the number compared with other state Board of Regents’ universities, and officials said the increasing crime rates, downtown coverage area, and large-scale events are the reasons why this difference exists.

“We have far more liquor establishments than ISU, we also assign police officers to the downtown as a regular patrol responsibility,” said Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the University of Iowa police. “While ISU and UNI would certainly respond to downtown locations as needed, ISU does not assign officers to their campus town, and I believe the same is true of UNI, although I’m not certain.”

The regents received this information at their meeting in Ames on Wednesday.

In 2012, the UI had 45 sworn state-certified officers, 16 civilian security officers, nine state certified dispatchers, one fire-safety coordinator, three support staff, and several part-time student employees. It is the only university in the state to have two explosive-detection canines.

Police Officers Edward Cardenas, 28, Brett Cooper, 24, and Gabriella Blanchard-Manning, 28, were hired at the end of 2012.

In comparison, Iowa State University public-safety has 35 sworn state-certified officers, nine full-time civilian staff, and a few part-time student employees, while the University of Northern Iowa has 18 sworn-state certified officers, five civilian staff and several part-time student employees for 2012.

One public-safety expert said population is not a factor when determining how many safety officials to hire, but the number of crime calls a university receives is a key element.

According to the regents’ annual campus safety and security report for 2012, the number of students arrested at the UI rose from 1,792 students in 2011 to 2,018 students in 2012.

“[The police personnel] have to analyze the workload and what tasks and then determine how many officers they will need to do that,” said Leonard Matarese, the director of research and project development of International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C., in light of the number of crime calls received. “Each organization has to analyze its personnel accordingly.”

UI football games also affect the number of public-safety personnel at the university. 

“Home football games are a major challenge, and our football stadium seats 70,000-plus people compared with ISU’s 55,000 and UNI’s 16,000 plus inside their UNI-Dome,” Green said.

Due to the size of Kinnick Stadium, explosives canines were purchased more than a decade ago because of the large amount of time that the police officials took to clear the stadium. The canines are being used for other reasons as well.

“We have used those canines out in the community, to clear bomb threats at different locations in the county, and we’ve used it for every presidential candidate we have had on campus,” Green said. “Not only on our campus, but we have shared our canines with UNI when they have had VIPs there, when they have had the secret service or FBI or someone else they needed to clear their facility for.”

The UI’s is not the only public-safety agency that is expanding. Iowa State University is also experiencing growth in it’s department.

“The population at ISU is certainly increasing, and so we have been able to have an increase in officers,” said Robert Bowers, deputy police chief of ISU public safety.

However, quantity does not supersede quality. Every public-safety agency in the state of Iowa must send its officers through the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy to be certified.

“There is no difference with any other law-enforcement agency in the state,” Green said. “But individual departments will have training modified for their institution.”

Iowa regent universities also have to follow chapter 11 of the regents’ law, which creates a policy in which universities develop and maintain inclusive plans in promoting a safe and secure campus environment.

“We all have to have threat assessment, and the departments they have are going to be about the same,” Green said. “We all have investigators, we all have records, and we’re all going to have dispatchers.”

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