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In October 2015, Villanova University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA announced that Villanova’s Department of Public Safety would become a police department with a combination of security and police officers starting in Fall 2016. A great deal of progress has been made toward this change, and the information below provides an overview of the transition as of August 1, 2016.
Villanova 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 with Radnor Township regarding jurisdiction, protocols and procedures, as well as officer recruitment, selection and training.
As part of the transition, Villanova established direct radio communication with the Delaware County 911 Center and local police departments. The department also became a certified criminal justice agency by the Pennsylvania State Attorney General, enabling access to law enforcement and Department of Motor Vehicle databases to aid investigations. These were two significant limitations of the previous public safety model that no longer exist now that Villanova has transitioned to a University police department.
As of August 1, Villanova officially has three police officers. That number will gradually increase throughout the fall, and there will likely be 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 next year. These officers will be distinguishable from their security officer counterparts by a modified uniform, distinct 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 Donohue shared that an Oversight Committee, chaired by Rev. Rob Hagan, OSA 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—providing input on initiatives to enhance campus safety and offering recommendations concerning police department policies and practices. The committee will also 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 Donohue, 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 semester, 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.
This outreach will continue throughout the academic year and monthly updates about the transition will be posted to the Public Safety website. The Department of Public Safety also moved to a new location in Garey Hall, and plans to host an Open House this fall for the entire campus community.