In an effort to increase and promote a safer environment around campus, parking enforcement is now classified under the Division of Public Safety with University Police, AlliedBarton and Emergency Management Planning.
The move comes after Hallcrest Systems Inc. published its report in December, calling for the University to coordinate and standardize all police and security-related functions under one executive.
Under the newly created organization, the 14 employees in parking enforcement will begin special training to assist UP in matters of coordinating traffic for big events and inclement weather, in addition to the police’s enforcement duties.
“The enforcement group will expand their scope to supplement the security and safety needs, but their primary focus remains enforcement and that will continue just as it has been,” said Director of Parking Services Manuel Lopez.
Bruce Benson, assistant vice president of the Division of Public Safety, said the group of parking officials provides another safety dimension for students on campus.
“Of the 14 parking officials, many have backgrounds in the military, fire department, police department and teaching,” Benson said. “They are an exceptional group of people with a lot of seasoning and background in safety-related issues.”
Benson thinks the additional help from parking enforcement officials will give the University another layer of security and help in times of need. The parking enforcement officers will not receive any increase in pay, he added.
“We want to train them in traffic direction, so in times of big traffic or catastrophes we can have them direct traffic and free our police officers to do other things,” he said. “It’s a win-win all around, we are getting extra help from some good people and adding to the safety of our community.”
Each week, Benson meets with the head of UP, AlliedBarton and parking enforcement to ensure that information is shared among the three groups. During that time, they also look at what kind of additional training can be provided to assist the University in peak and overload times.
“We want to utilize all systems of communication, radios and cell phones, so when something happens and one group sees it, everyone knows about it in a short period of time,” he said. “This enhances the safety of our employees as well as the campus.”
Although the flow of information wasn’t lacking prior to the new division, Lopez said meeting each week wasn’t necessary because the two roles were not related.
“I wouldn’t say there was a lack of information before; there was just no need to interact in the form of a meeting,” he said. “Nevertheless, our enforcement section has always acted as an additional presence in the field, communicating with UP when necessary.”
Even though parking officials will be doing extra work, Benson said it would in no way be another full-time job.
“These officials are already out on foot or carts handling parking issues, we aren’t asking them to do another full -time job,” he said. “There are just things they can do while they are out doing their job.”
With the additional tasks performed by parking officials, Benson said the Division of Public Safety is off to a good start.
“We have 14 more people to rely on and we are all working and communicating together, giving the community safety we didn’t have before,” he said.