As a result of a thorough review of campus safety protocols conducted over the last year, St. Mary's College of Maryland plans to introduce a new campus security model in August of 2023. Recent tragedies on campuses and communities across America prompted us to take a proactive approach.
As this process moves forward, we will provide updates to our community and archive those announcements here. We will also maintain a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs); you may send additional questions you may have through the link at the bottom of the page.
The new Director of Public Safety will bear the responsibility of developing language specific to the engagement of special police officers with the campus community, in consultation with both experts and the upper administration. They will then present the proposed engagement language to an advisory group comprised of students, faculty and staff before the policy is disseminated and approved by the president and, if appropriate, the Board of Trustees.
Safety in public spaces, especially in educational settings, is a national concern. Mass shootings aren't the only kinds of gun violence on college campuses. Everytown for Gun Safety documented 308 instances of gunfire on college campuses, occurring in 42 states and Washington, D.C., from 2013-2022. These incidents include individual attacks, unintentional gunfire, legal interventions, self-harm, and other instances. Considering recent tragedies on campuses and in communities across America, especially the increased frequency of these events in recent years, over the course of the last several months the College conducted an overall assessment of our campus safety protocols. Analyzing these assessments, we came to recognize two things: we need to enhance campus security, and this will require, among other things, a new security model. Waiting until a threat occurs is too late to act. We must be vigilant and proactive in protecting our campus community; students, faculty, staff and visitors.
● The current plan is to enhance campus security and to implement a new security model
● Provide additional training and body cameras to officers
● Install security cameras around campus
● Assess and fix all door locks
● Hire a new Director of Public Safety. The Vice President of Equity and Strategic Initiatives is the chair of the search.
● Implement a security/special police model that will include sworn armed Special Police Officers (SPOs)
● In the interim, hire a security firm to provide SPOs until the new model is implemented
We have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place that guides the response of the Sheriff’s Office to the campus. It details the level of support they provide to us as well as the resources our Office of Public Safety provides to them when they arrive on campus. This includes training, investigative resources, emergency response, and other topics.
In the case of an emergency, the Sheriff’s Office will assume incident command. Currently, the Sheriff’s Office cannot provide us with a designated officer. Response time for them to arrive on campus is dependent on where an available officer is located in the county. In past campus emergencies, response time has varied from 11 minutes to 45 minutes.
Public safety officers provide a whole range of information, service, and protection efforts including emergency preparation, parking management, lockouts, physical security, and Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act compliance. Other services provided include event security, shuttle/escort, welfare checks, safety presentation, building access, jump starting cars, emergency phones, self-defense classes, fingerprinting, lost & found, investigating maintenance complaints, police record request, victim services referral, campus vehicle driver certification, property registration, and light surveys. PSOs conduct bi-monthly checks of all external lights on campus and complete a form which is forwarded to the Physical Plant office detailing lights that are inoperative or in need of repairs. The form is called a light survey.
Special Police Officers are sworn officers with academy certification. They fulfill all security roles, respond to all emergency and non-emergency calls for service, conduct criminal, campus, and administrative investigations and provide training/education for the campus community
Both PSOs and SPOs will work for the Office of Public Safety. When President Jordan stated in her email that we would "hire more public safety officers, and some will be armed" she was not stating that PSOs would be armed, but that additional officers would be hired by the Office of Public Safety, and some of those would be SPOs. There will be significantly more PSOs than SPOs on campus at any given time. Our primary focus will remain community policing.
Campus Safety is our #1 priority. Before we can fully develop and implement a new security model we need to 1) hire a new Director for Public Safety, and then 2) work with that individual to implement the new model which we anticipate will take approximately 12 - 18 months to complete. This process will also include creating a job description for SPOs, hiring, enhanced training that meets state-mandated requirements, and drafting additional policies and procedures that will guide their work. Recognizing that this will take time, in the interim we want to augment our Office of Public Safety by providing highly trained, vetted SPOs until such time as we are able to hire our own SPOs.
Under the new director for public safety, we will create a Student Advisory Board to Public Safety. The board will meet regularly to share needs and expectations, as well as discuss emerging trends that inform policies and procedures.
In past assessments of the Office of Public Safety, it was recommended that PSOs use body cameras, a widely recognized best practice.
We must make sure in our hiring process and training of SPOs that we are thorough in our vetting process. They must understand and commit to honoring our campus values, and value a campus community where all students, staff, and faculty can thrive, be free from discrimination and feel safe. We must do our part to hold everyone accountable to this ideal that we hold paramount.
In the request for proposals (RFP) process the College has control over who is selected, requirements for staffing, level of training and experience. Once hired, the College will also require in-service training to ensure all armed SPOs understand all St. Mary’s College and Office of Public Safety standard operating procedures, rules and regulations and our campus culture.
In the event that a psychological crisis occurs after hours, students or staff should call Public Safety at 240-895-4911. They will provide assessment and coordinate transportation to St. Mary’s Hospital if needed. If the psychological crisis is during the day, students should utilize the Counseling Center Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Students may also access walk-in appointments from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Monday through Friday. The Wellness Center has also contracted with ProtoCall, a toll-free crisis hotline available 24/7 by licensed professionals. To access ProtoCall Services, dial 240-895-4200 or 855-826-1869 and you will be provided with immediate support, crisis intervention and/or stabilization.