Assistant News Editor
The College recently hired four new officers who will provide security services along with the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The hiring of these new officers comes as the result of an independent security audit suggesting ways to improve campus safety initiatives at F&M.
The new security officers — Robert Cox, Howard Paslay, Dennis Shaffer, and Hector Torres — were insourced in late December. All four officers have worked at F&M in some capacity prior to being hired: Cox and Shaffer as members of DPS, and Paslay and Torres as employees of AlliedBarton Security Services who had been assigned to the College.
Responsibilities of the new officers will include patrolling the campus, camera monitoring, helping with student lockouts and escorts, reporting unsafe situations, and other tasks.
“You’ll see them out and about,” said William McHale, director of Public Safety.
The hiring of these new officers was prompted by an external review of campus safety and security practices, which was intended to identify what F&M could improve upon in those areas. “We hired a consultant called Margolis, Healy and Associates, who have a wealth of experience in higher education police and security,” said David Proulx, vice president for finance and administration. “They provided us with a written report after numerous interviews and review of documentation that applauded our efforts and provided several recommendations for us to consider for improving those efforts.”
The report suggested F&M hire officers of its own instead of outsourcing to AlliedBarton, which had been providing the College with security personnel until recently. While there were no serious issues, AlliedBarton could change the officers assigned to F&M without informing the College.
“We had people coming in here that I had never seen before,” McHale said.
F&M’s Student Workers’ Advocacy Group also influenced the decision to insource the officers. In one of their regular meetings with David Proulx, the members suggested the College hire its own security personnel to ensure the officers were receiving adequate compensation and benefits.
“They were instrumental in bringing this idea to the table,” Proulx said.
As a result of the four new officers being hired, the College now has greater control over security staffing and making sure security personnel have more experience with the F&M community. Additionally, the new employees receive better pay and benefits, as well as new uniforms and equipment.
Response to the change has been highly positive.
“I am personally excited that we have been able to add four outstanding individuals to the F&M team,” Proulx said.
His attitude was shared by McHale, who said, “I am very happy they’re here. I’m hoping the community is as happy as I am. I think it’s a rare situation when you get a win-win, and you have to take advantage of it.”
Cox, who had worked at F&M for several years in DPS prior to being hired as a security officer, explained his feelings on being recently hired.
“It’s great,” Cox said. “I was looking forward to coming back. It’s a good atmosphere; it’s a good community. F&M’s a good insti- tution, and as for the Department itself, I really like the people that work here. I was glad to be back.”
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