Campus police strive for safety

One of the three police cars the campus police department owns. One car was a donation and the other two were bought at retired vehicle price.

Joshua Boley, The Chart

One of the three police cars the campus police department owns. One car was a donation and the other two were bought at retired vehicle price.

Since 2008, the University Police Department at Missouri Southern has made several changes. First, the Board of Governors signed a resolution allowing the campus security to become a police department. Most recently, all officers in department passed P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standards and Training) to become police officers. 

According to University Police Chief Ken Kennedy, the department is currently working to increase its professionalism and has future plans for improving the department. 

“We have seven full-time police officers, one full-time dispatcher and four student workers that help with dispatch,” Kennedy said. “We also have a couple of students who work as work-study who are part time.”

Kennedy said as of last week the department also picked up a reserve officer that is an unpaid volunteer. The department’s plan is to increase the number by six as soon as next summer, with an eventual total of 11. 

“We have people who are interested and are in various stages of the process of getting their hours to P.O.S.T,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy is happy with the interest in the program and said that having additional officers provides more safety, not just for the school, but the officers as well.

Another change for to the department was the institution of physical fitness standards. Officers were given  one year’s notice prior to testing

According to Kennedy, all incoming officers will have to pass the physical fitness testing, a written test of general police knowledge, a firearms test and an oral board in addition to a full background check.

The department has also worked out an agreement with the criminal justice program that allows their officers to take classes and training in the program for free. 

It is Kennedy’s desire to enable the officers to become one the best-trained departments in the area. 

University Police has also joined the Tri-state Major Case Squad which not only allows them to assist other departments if need be, but also to call in assistance on campus for large investigations. 

“Some of the investigations can be difficult if there just aren’t any leads,” Officer Ross Collins said. 

Kennedy is hoping that with additional budget improvements they can add to their current camera system. 

This includes still cameras mounted on some of the residence halls as well as a pivot/tilt zoom lens mounted to the academic buildings. 

At the top of the list for improvements, not only from Kennedy but his officers, are better patrol vehicles. 

“Our vehicles we have now are retired vehicles from other agencies, a couple were bought for very little money and one was donated from another agency,” Kennedy said. 

While every semester there is property damage and assaults, this semester Kennedy said there has been increase in theft from vehicles. 

The department thinks it has found the person or persons responsible for many of the thefts and is in the process of bringing them to justice. 

Kennedy said it is importany for students to protect themselves from this risk. He suggests students keep their car, and homes, locked at all times. 

Kennedy also suggests students don’t leave anything valuable in their cars and avoid bringing anything of extreme value to campus. 

“We are just doing the best job that we can do,” Collins said.