University administrators continue to ignore the flagrant danger inherent in an un-patrolled, or under-patrolled, campus.
As detailed in Friday’s Oracle, USF was blatantly un-patrolled Sunday, Oct. 7, as the four University Police officers then on duty were working crowd control at the Sun Dome while 5,000 to 7,000 students waited in line for USF-UCF tickets.
“It took all of our officers off the street,” captain and operations commander Robert Staehle told the Oracle.
Compounding the difficulties of an un-patrolled campus is the fact that when UP officers are patrolling the campus, they do so alone – a practice that is now being reversed and challenged in metropolitan police forces in south Florida.
The Miami Herald reports that state law enforcement officials are reacting to the national upswing in police killings by considering sending out patrol officers in pairs rather than individually, which is common policy in major cities like New York and Los Angeles.
This push comes about in large part because two Broward county sheriff deputies were shot – one killed and one severely injured – within days of each other last August, according to the Herald.
“Everyone hopping about by themselves is a recipe for disaster,” said David Murrell, executive director of the state Police Benevolent Association, to the Herald. “If there were two officers to a car, maybe what happened to those two deputies wouldn’t have happened.”
Just two days after the Herald published that article, a tragedy underscoring the need to act – and to equip patrol officers everywhere, including USF, with partners- occurred in Cutler Bay, near Miami.
The Associated Press reports that 25-year-old Shawn Sherwin Labeet opened fire on four Miami-Dade police officers during a routine traffic stop. One officer died and three others were injured.
On campus last December, moreover, another incident occurred emphasizing the importance of partnered patrolling.
As a UP officer approached a man on campus early in the morning and asked him about his whereabouts, it was discovered that the man had a gun.
Thankfully, another UP officer was cruising by and stopped to assist the UP officer who handled the incident and arrested the man, who had even boasted he’d been frisked by another area law enforcement agent earlier that evening who hadn’t noticed the gun.
Sixty percent of the people arrested on campus, moreover, aren’t USF students, according to UP.
The agency also credits the fact that USF is surrounded by “high-risk” neighborhoods with the potential for crime.
Even Tampa Police patrol these very neighborhoods with two officers per car, Staehle said.
Although the potential for crime around USF and on campus is high, this potential doesn’t have to become reality and the campus can be safe.
And the way USF can limit the potential for crime and danger to UP officers is by hiring more officers and paying them adequately so they do not patrol the campus alone.