Wright State Police | Photo by Soham Parikh | Edited by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian
To adjust their operations to Wright State University’s (WSU) decreased student population, WSU’s police force is currently working towards consolidating many of its stand-alone units under a Department of Public Safety umbrella. This effort is slated to include such units as the transportation, parking services, and police departments.
Restructure of Public Safety
In 2003, the WSU Police Department was established as its own entity. Prior to this, there was a Department of Public Safety which encompassed a police force, as well as other units which were eventually reestablished as their own department.
At the time this process took place, enrollment rates were increasing to almost 19,000 students. Now, however, these rates have been declining, requiring operations to recalibrate to a smaller student population.
WSU will still possess an on-campus police force, providing the same services to students and faculty. WSU’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Greg Sample says students can expect the same level of protection following this reorganization.
“There will be no changes at [the student] level or the way that the police interact with the student body on campus,” Sample said. “The level of safety services that have been made available to campus are not going to diminish in any way”
No Police Chief
This consolidation is attempting to generate a more unified safety team to enhance operations and campus services. As part of this, there will no longer be a Chief of Police position, rather a Director of Public Safety who will oversee operations in several of the department’s other units.
Currently, Police Lt. Kurt Holden is serving as the interim Director of Public Safety. Former WSU Police Chief David Finnie remains a university employee working with the Department of Public Safety.
Consolidation movements similar to this have been executed in almost every administrative area in the university. A notable demonstration of this is the previous restructuring of Wright State’s seven colleges to reduce them to four.
Maintaining multiple safety services under a singular department of safety is common practice amongst several universities. Bowling Green University and the University of Dayton, for example, both have safety operations maintained by a department of public safety similar to WSU’s new model.
“The main goal is to have a team-based and community-focused approach to safety,” Holden said.
This push for a community-centered perspective on public safety holds potential opportunities for student involvement.
Creating roles for students to carry out safety services and participate in certain safety operations on campus is another goal Sample and Holden are interested in carrying out in the future. This was a feature of Wright State’s safety department in the past, and going forward will model after similar programs such as Bowling Green, University of Dayton and Sinclair.
For students and faculty with questions or seeking more information, Holden is hosting a Q and A session this Thursday, Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. This brief meeting, taking place through WebEx, is open for all to come learn more about these upcoming changes. The link to access this meeting is https://wright.webex.com/meet/kurt.holden.