A Pinellas County legislator sent a letter Friday to USF President Judy Genshaft and the University’s Board of Trustees stating he had concerns about whether campus safety was a top priority at USF.
Rep. Rick Kriseman questioned the emphasis Genshaft and the BOT had placed on the University Police Department and urged them to ensure staffing, funding, equipment and support levels for campus police that measured up to other state universities.
“You oversee more than just a campus – it is a community – and I do not believe a community can function well if they live, or learn, in fear,” he stated.
Kriseman congratulated Genshaft on the growth of the student body and strides made in research and academics during her presidency before stating that “nothing is more important than the security and well-being of the students, faculty, staff, and visitors on a college campus.”
USF has a ratio of police officers to students lower than that of any other major four-year university in the state. Administrators and UP have been haggling over police officers’ salaries since February, and over the past several weeks, media scrutiny of campus safety at USF has increased. Student leaders staged a campus sit-in Oct. 16 to protest the way Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall and Genshaft had handled UP.
“It’s an issue that needs to be resolved, and I won’t be satisfied until our police force is fully funded,” student body President Garin Flowers said.
University officials held a press conference Friday to announce the hiring of AlliedBarton Security Services to provide unarmed security officers for campus patrols. They also said the UP would be moved out of Student Affairs and rolled into a new Public Safety Division with several other University departments.
“We’ve been taking steps to boost retention and recruitment of police officers to improve security on campus and ease any concerns by the public on safety,” USF spokesman Ken Gullette said.
Kriseman, who could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon, stated that complaints from constituents and media reports had prompted the letter.
In addition to the BOT and Genshaft, copies of the letter went to Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall, University Police Chief Thomas Longo, student body President Garin Flowers and Rep. Ed Homan, from Hillsborough County.
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