USF displayed initiative in increasing campus safety by hiring Dr. Bruce Benson as the interim assistant vice president of the Division of Public Safety. Naming Benson as the head of the newly established Public Safety Division demonstrates that USF is taking steps to solve their security woes.
According to Ken Gullette, director of media relations at USF, Benson was hired in response to a report filed by Hallcrest Security, the third-party security consultant hired by USF to evaluate the University’s security needs.
The hiring of a third-party security consultant was listed by James Dragna as one alleged instance of mismanagement of funds in an e-mail sent regarding Student Affairs VP Jennifer Meningall. USF appears determined to ensure that the $13,000 spent on the report was not wasted.
While the consulting could also be considered a waste of time for the University since their newly hired police chief was providing ample criticism, concerns and suggestions, the fact that USF is listening to Hallcrest’s advice shows progress.
Benson appears to be a wise choice for the new position and head of the department. He served in a similar capacity at Michigan State University, where he worked as Chief of Police. His understanding of campus security should create a positive relationship between administrators, UP and any other security forces USF may have relationships with.
Another recommendation made by Hallcrest was that USF should build a new public safety facility. According to Gullette, that is in motion.
These are a few positives steps taken by USF, but there is still much to be done.
The impasse with the PBA is a security issue that looms large, and until there is an agreement that allows UP to staff properly, much of the work USF is trying to complete will be pointless. Plans, regardless of intent, can hardly be effective without the personnel to enforce them.
However, as long as USF’s effort is genuine and not merely a public relations display, the decisions being made now will ultimately prove that listening to experts concerned with student safety can only be positive.