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The changing role of the college police officer
by Officer John Dylewicz / WPI Campus Police

Having been a College Police Officer in the City of Worcester for the last 30+ years I'd like to recall the evolution of this profession and offer some perspective. Back in the era prior to the 1960's, most of the colleges in Worcester had some sort of a Security department, and Campus "Policing" was a blurred concept. The main functions of the campus security officer was to check and lock and unlock buildings (primarily at night, on weekends and during holidays and breaks), enforce campus parking, investigate accidents (both motor vehicle and industrial) and occasionally maintain the peace and tranquility of the campus, where feasible. Any serious criminal violations (B&E's, larcenies, or crimes against the person such as assaults and rapes) would normally involve calling in the Worcester Police.

But a new trend was taking shape in the early 1970's and area colleges, in conjunction with the Worcester Police and Massachusetts State Police, began to educate their security officers in campus policing. College Police Officers were educated in the art of recognizing the elements of a crime (both against the person and property), interrogating suspects and determining probable cause (whether a crime may have been or is about to be committed). They also learned about apprehension and arrest procedures, courtroom procedures, first aid, crisis intervention, and use of firearms.

The first Campus Police Class trained by the Worcester Police Department graduated in the summer of 1972 and was just 4 weeks long. Except for the firearms training, all training was held in the classroom and there were no physical fitness requirements. Today's' campus police recruits are trained at the Massachusetts State Police Academy in New Braintree, Massachusetts and the course is 16 weeks long. It is the same training that all Massachusetts municipal police officers receive with the exception of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90 enforcement (Motor Vehicle Law). There is also an intense physical fitness regimen incorporated within this program and all recruits must meet these standards for the 16 week duration or they fail the course. In short, today's' College Police Officer in Massachusetts graduates with the education and skill to handle the same situations which confront police officers in any Massachusetts community.

Once officers graduate from the Massachusetts State Police Academy, they must attend and pass yearly refresher courses which include Massachusetts criminal law updates, First Responder (Aid) and CPR refresher courses, and firearms training. Officers also continually hone their capabilities in the law enforcement field by attending specialized courses at various municipal, state, and federal academies involving: bomb detection, hostage negotiation, fingerprinting, forensic scientific investigation, computer theft and spyware issues, identity theft, property protection management (building security), fire protection, crisis counseling, litigation issues, etc.

The police officers of the current WPI police department are not only exceptionally well-trained, they are also exceptionally experienced and multi-talented within the law enforcement field. Many of our officers are former state and municipal police officers and have held the rank of colonel and captain, Chief and Deputy Chief, in their prior police departments. Several current officers have Masters Degrees in law-enforcement and related fields.

We have officers that are trained criminal investigators (detectives), crisis counselors, RAD (Rape, Aggression, Defense) instructors, EMT's, crime prevention officers (personal possession protection which include laptop and computer security issues), Security Systems advisors, Massachusetts State Police Academy instructors, and self-defense and firearms instructors.

The college police officer of the 21st century is a multi-faceted entity whose tasks can be somewhat more complicated than the average police officer. Not only do we provide security and fire protection for our buildings, but we must also protect the population (student, staff and visitors). We must provide a safe haven in all areas of the campus: dormitory and academic buildings as well as parking lots and playing fields. We must act as counselors when necessary, for we are sometimes the first line of defense when students involves themselves in an issue, and we sometimes have to counsel parents as well as students. Sometimes, we must also wear a lawyer's hat in the courtroom.

The Massachusetts college police officer of this generation is a much more highly trained and educated professional than the campus police officer of just a short 30 years ago. College policing and security continuously adjusts to new security and police issues, the most prominent being the events of September 11th, 2001. Accordingly, Campus Police now interact with federal agencies regularly with regards to foreign security issues.

In short, some issues have changed over the years and some have remained the same. College police still perform the basic security functions (building security, parking, etc.) previously mentioned. But some issues have catapulted college policing into newer, dramatic dimensions (domestic abuses, identity theft, 9/11) of essential campus protective services. Society in general, and college campuses in particular, will always have security and criminal concerns. Unfortunately, the problems have just grown much more complex and the training and personnel must necessarily continuously adapt to keep pace.

Comments, queries? Contact me at [email protected]; or call X 5270 and ask for Officer John (Jay) Dylewicz
 

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How about giving a copy of the article to college admin, maybe then they will stop calling us "security".
 

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HEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Extremely well written. Concise and to the point. The only problem is it will not get the circulation, or the deserving attention, even here in Mass or New England, that it deserves.

Secondly, some academian liberal with newspaper friends would get a half-page rebuttal full of myths and distortions to counter such truthful writing as the above. And guess who the majority would then be influenced by?

Sorry, but I am not a pessimist. I'm just painfully aware of our environment.
:evil:
 
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