Hard at work just a few months into his new job as chief of University Police, Thomas Longo is instituting some major changes that will be immediately visible to all students.
Longo has already begun to change the look of the department, with new uniforms and new decals on some vehicles scheduled to debut this fall. In addition to aesthetic changes, Longo plans on changing the direction of the department and developing new programs on campus.
The department has already begun enforcing speed limits on the roads surrounding campus, including Fowler Avenue, Fletcher Avenue and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. UP can now issue tickets on the nearby roads, which is a change from last year when those tickets would have been issued either through the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office or the Tampa Police Department.
Longo also hopes to crack down on drunk driving on campus and throughout the community. While assistant chief of police at Florida State University, he created the first student chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to encourage students to make safe choices while drinking. He hopes to continue that diligence via strict enforcements in the fall, including DUI checkpoints at campus entrances in early September.
“Students control their own destiny. It’s important to realize that any infraction on your record could keep you from getting a job in the future,” Longo said.
In order to fully put his new ideas into action, Longo hopes to increase the size of the force. However, the decision is still in the hands of the University’s budget.
If he is able to increase the department’s scope, he hopes to found a USF chapter of the Citizens’ Police Academy, which originated at FSU. According to the FSU chapter’s Web site, the program encourages students and the community to participate in the department. Ideally, students will be trained in many areas of campus law enforcement, including crime prevention, patrol and investigations.
Another visible change will be the addition will be the Adopt-A-Cop program, which will allow officers to be assigned to a cluster of residence halls or areas on campus, including fraternity and sorority houses and possibly some apartments.
“The department will be going in a different direction. Our police believe in the future -that’s why they choose to be officers here at the University rather than with local departments. We want to ensure your quality of life, whether (the problem) is an obnoxious neighbor or something more serious. We want to be part of a patchwork of organizations designed to help you do what you came here to do; part of the constellation to make the learning process possible,” Longo said.