Badge of Safety

By Zachary Block '99 / November / December 2002
June 28th, 2007
Their uniforms may look the same, but campus police officers and security guards now belong to a new department - at least one with a new name. The switch from the Brown University Police Department to the Department of Public Safety is just one of the changes to campus policing under way thanks to recommendations by a team of security experts led by former Boston and New York City police chief William Bratton (who will soon be heading the Los Angeles Police Department). Bratton's consulting group had been hired by the University to assess ways of improving campus security in the wake of a rash of assaults and robberies on and around campus last fall (see "Searching for Answers," Elms, July/August).

"There aren't any material recommendations in the report that we don't plan to implement," says Vice President for Administration Walter Hunter. Brown police chief Paul Verrecchia says the department has streamlined its structure, instituted a case-management system to track the status of investigations, developed new internal-affairs procedures to handle complaints against campus officers, and hired a manager to oversee sexual-assault cases.

Brown police supervisors were also scheduled to begin periodic meetings with Providence police brass and RISD security officials in October as part of an effort to improve coordination between the departments, but turnover in the Providence department's leadership has complicated that effort. As of mid-October campus police were also awaiting the delivery of two new shuttle vans and were pondering more changes, including ending patrols inside dorms to improve officers' readiness to respond to emergencies.

Verrecchia says the security study has also prompted reforms above and beyond what the report recommended, including, for example, enrolling shuttle and escort drivers in a defensive driving course. Over the past year the University has also added seven police officers to the force, an increase of 43 percent. But one recommendation in the report - that police officers carry guns - remains unresolved. President Ruth Simmons has said she plans to decide the issue later this year.

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November / December 2002