The Colgate Scene
March 2000
Table of contents
Taking campus safety seriously
by James Leach
Campus Safety Director Gary Bean
A Colgate reunion doesn't pass without a returning alumnus approaching Campus Safety Director Gary Bean to reminisce about the days when proctor Fred Verro was the college's one-man security force.

     Bean himself served a short stint at Colgate under Verro's successor in the proctor's office, Jack Clifford. For a young man just out of college, the proctor's office wasn't exactly the law enforcement career Bean had envisioned. "I was as idealistic then as I am now about how professional campus law enforcement should be."

     The statement isn't a knock on Clifford; Colgate, like many other small colleges at the time, had a different perspective on campus security then. Members of the proctor's staff were essentially watchmen touring the campus in Ford Pintos, and student offenses were generally dealt with on campus. "In loco parentis was the order of the day," Bean explained.

     Things began to change in the late '70s after an outside evaluation underscored the need for expanded services. The proctor's office became campus security, and Hamilton Police Chief Robert Holcomb was hired as its first director. Bean rejoined the force as a patrol officer during the Holcomb administration, worked his way through the chairs of investigative and administrative positions under former director William O'Connell, and was appointed director four years ago.

     The department he heads today -- renamed campus safety in 1992 to reflect broader responsibilities -- is organized to protect the safety and security of the campus and its inhabitants 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the year around. Fred Verro would probably marvel at the 62 full- and part-time employees on the Campus Safety payroll today, the fleet of Jeeps, and the dispatch center in the small house at the northeast corner of campus. But that level of capacity reflects the modern standard.

Sometimes it take a sense of humor -- and other times a tin ear -- to be the official presence at a Colgate sporting event. Peggy Winton is one of 30 auxiliary members of the campus safety staff who help ensure that things run smoothly at the college's athletic and special events.
Mandated change
Many of the advances in campus safety operations have resulted from legislation at the state and national levels. For example, the federal Jeanne Clery Act, formerly known as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, requires a periodic public disclosure of the college's public safety policies and procedures, as well as a three-year accounting of crime statistics.

     Prompted by a campaign led by the parents of a student, Jeanne Clery, who was brutally assaulted in her dorm room at a Pennsylvania college, federal legislators established a level of accountability that was intended to raise awareness of campus security.

Gert Neubauer, assistant director of campus safety
     Gert Neubauer, Colgate's assistant director of campus safety, monitors the college's compliance with the Clery Act and compiles crime statistics. "We have no problem letting people know our true statistics," Neubauer said. "Colgate compares well."

     The days of keeping crime "in house" are past. New York State's Campus Safety Act, which took effect at the turn of the year, establishes uniform policies for reporting violent felony offenses and information about missing students. "We report everything to the local police and our crime statistics become part of the village's overall total for the FBI's uniform crime reporting," Bean said. Even false alarms, once the exclusive province of the campus judicial system, are now arraigned immediately in village court, and later dealt with on campus.

     The statutes for dealing with fire safety are as stringent as campus criminal codes. John Basher, assistant director for fire safety, ensures that the college complies with legislation such as the New York State fire code.

     A lifelong Hamilton resident and two-time chief of the village's volunteer Fountain Fire Company, Basher is serious about fire safety. The college had no fire or smoke alarms in dorm rooms when Basher joined the force in 1982. Today there are hard-wired smoke alarms in every residence hall room on campus (in a ratio of one alarm to each student bed), as well as a mandated system of fire detection for fraternities and sororities.

     Basher's avowed goal is to have the campus "under water," and the college is making steady progress toward having sprinklers in all its buildings, with priority given to residence halls.

Hamilton Street at the northeast corner of campus is the hub of campus safety operations. The department's red Jeeps are a familiar sight on campus, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Cross training
The modern campus safety force includes, in addition to Bean, Basher and Neubauer, eight full-time patrol officers, six full-time dispatchers (who double as the college's switchboard operators), eleven part-time officers, and more than 30 auxiliary officers who provide coverage for campus events. In addition, the office employs nearly 30 students who work as office assistants and perform what Bean described as "outreach patrols," walking through residence halls and parking lots in the evenings, opening rooms for students who have been locked out, and creating a presence on campus by circulating in marked patrol cars.

     All of the full-time staff and part-time officers are cross-trained in each other's jobs. "Having patrol officers work as dispatchers emphasizes customer service," Bean said, "and having dispatchers work as patrol officers gives the dispatchers an appreciation of what it means to be on the front line. Staff tell me it is a tremendous bonding experience."

     Under an arrangement that be-gan in the fall with the Village of Hamilton, the college's patrol officers have been given the authority to enforce village regulations on campus. Campus safety officers are sworn in as part-time officers of the Hamilton Police Department and will receive the same combination of in-service and Police Academy training that is required of village police officers. Bean estimated that it will take three to four years to cycle his entire staff through the training process, which amounts to upwards of 600 hours training for each officer.

     Campus safety officers will use the new authority primarily to enforce vehicle and traffic laws on campus. Prior to the agreement, campus safety officers had no ticketing authority, a fact that was not lost on some campus drivers.

     But traffic regulation is not the only responsibility of campus safety. Officers have responsibility for upholding federal, state and local statutes, just as police officers in any other jurisdiction. Bean and his officers are the primary investigators of any criminal activity on campus, and work in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies to investigate serious misdemeanors, felonies and higher offenses.

     Campus dispatchers, as well, are trained in state-certified courses off campus. Campus safety provides 911 service from all phones on campus, including those in fraternities and sororities, as well as "blue light" emergency phones in many on-campus locations. "We are the prim-ary responder on all emergency calls," Bean explained. The service provides for quick and appropriate response if assistance is required from an outside agency, but also serves to screen the hundreds of false alarms that are reported over the course of the year.

     Colgate's officers are in radio contact at all times directly with the fire department, the Southern Madison County Ambulance Corps (SOMAC) and with law enforcement agencies countywide (including Hamilton Police, the county sheriff, and state police).

At the officers' work station, Bob Kane III (foreground) and Dusty Brown file their daily reports and maintain contact with other campus safety officers. From their modern facilities, dispatchers monitor other law enforcement and emergency agencies countywide. The shoulder patches of many of those agencies are among those on display.
Connecting with students
As a constant presence on campus, the college's campus safety officers staff a variety of programs and services that extend far beyond "enforcement." The department is introduced to incoming students through a narrated skit that is one of the popular features of fall orientation. Officers K.C. Stewart, Bob Kane and Judy Marvin have developed the tongue-in-cheek sketch that, as Bean says, "characterizes some of the things students can do to get themselves in trouble."

John Basher, assistant director for fire safety
     Basher conducts fire safety instruction in all residence halls and makes his program available to fraternities and sororities, as well. His regular inspection of campus buildings (including the maintenance of 1,200+ fire extinguishers) culminates each year when he files with the state a 20-page fire and code compliance report on all university buildings.

     Basher also oversees the testing that certifies students as drivers of college vans. He administers the combination written and road tests to as many as 150 students in an average year.

     Basher is an important contact between students and the local volunteer fire department; that connection has led to as many as a dozen students at a time serving as full participants in the local department.

     As a way of increasing positive interaction with students, campus safety officers each "adopt" a Col-gate residence hall. The program, which begins with officers spending a bit of extra time with students and staff in their adopted hall, often develops into friendships that extend to activities beyond campus. One officer took a group of students to the Baseball Hall of Fame; another taught students the art of fly fishing; trips to the mall and winter sleigh rides are other popular activities that bring students and officers together in off hours.

     Campus safety sponsors two programs to help students identify their valuables. During Operation ID, officers visit residence halls to engrave and register students' possessions. CUBIT is the Colgate University bike identification tag, issued when students register their bikes with campus safety.

     By far the largest category of crime on campus (111 reported last year) are what Neubauer calls "crimes of opportunity" -- the petty thefts that result when students leave their rooms and vehicles unlocked and their valuables unattended. Campus safety operates two educational programs to counter the problem: "Park Smart" issues reminders to people whose cars are left unlocked or with valuables in sight; "Operation Lock Down" makes note of unlocked rooms and leaves a reminder hanging from the door knob. Crime prevention programs assist the entire campus community, including faculty and staff.

     For students in need of medical assistance, campus safety coordinates emergency first aid response. The department also provides transportation for students with medical problems. Whether to medical facilities or to and from class, the non-emergency medical transport averages 3,000 trips each year.

     New York State law prohibits students from having weapons in their rooms, but for students who bring rifles or shotguns to hunt or shoot targets or skeet, campus safety provides locked storage at its headquarters building.

     Two of the department's most universal services are the issuance of photo identification (all students and employees receive free identification cards), and the registration of all vehicles. The enforcement of parking regulations, said Bean, is the cause of greatest friction. "We're dinged on all sides. People think our enforcement policy is either too strong, or not strong enough."

     The department also provides security services for all athletic and special events on campus. Whether it is monitoring fans at Starr Rink, coordinating parking at commencement, or ensuring the safety and privacy of distinguished visitors, Bean said: "Whenever someone runs a major event on campus, we're involved."

     The community has come to expect a great deal from campus safety, so much so that Gary Bean said his biggest challenge is "balancing all the various needs of the constituents." It is a challenge that he and his fellow officers take on happily -- professionally.

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