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Univ. discusses timeline for hiring new Chief of Public Safety

The university’s search committee for a new Chief of Public Safety is looking for a candidate who will be involved in reimagining what public safety is on campus, according to the job description posted for the position. Lois Stanley, Vice President for Campus Planning and Operations, spoke to The Brandeis Hoot about recent efforts in reimagining the role of Chief of Public Safety, public safety as a whole and their engagement with the Brandeis community. 

The Chief of Public Safety at the university is responsible for managing the university’s police department as well as the transportation services at the university, including the Branvan, other shuttle services offered and parking, according to the job description. The chief would be responsible for around 20 offices, two security officers, five parking monitors, all student workers of the Branvan as well as the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) and contracted shuttle company employees, according to the description.  

“This is a time of transformation for the BUPD and the institution. Great potential exists for this chief to make an impact on Brandeis for many years to come,”according to the description. 

The job description notes the university’s goal of reimaging public safety in order to address systemic racism on campus. The new chief would be taking into consideration the major themes for the future of public safety including transparency, relationship building with community members, differential response systems and the creation of a community advisory group, according to the description.

“This new leader will lead a pivotal strategic planning process for the Department of Public Safety, creating a shared vision of the role and mission of the department as well as developing a true sense of positive and proactive engagement with students and other constituencies,” according to the description. 

The search committee was launched in October 2020, though the search itself was not officially launched until January 2021, according to the timeline on the university’s Chief of Public Safety Search Process page. The search committee received training that helps identify biases within searches as well as in the public safety environment both at Brandeis and nationwide, according to the page. The finalized job description was made in February 2021 and active recruitment has taken place since. 

Confidential first round interviews were conducted in April 2021, the candidates selected were then given to the hiring authority Stew Uretsky, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and Stanley, according to the timeline. Community interviews of the candidates will begin in May 2021, and the new chief of police is set to take over in either June or July of 2021.

Having surveyed student, faculty, stakeholder and university partner sentiments on the function of the Public Safety and analyses of critical metrics, the Reimagining Team has developed a comprehensive plan to evolve the role of Public Safety, Stanley explained. The input stems from 19 community check-ins and Listening Sessions, 25 interviews from campus partners and activists and interviews with Public Safety members. 

Feedback from the 250 participants of the Listening Sessions indicated the desire for the university policing force to better integrate with the campus community in hopes of sharing a common vision for the safety of university constituents, said Stanley. Campus participants emphasized a need for Public Safety to understand Brandeis’s history and core values. 

Stakeholders such as The Board of Trustees, senior administrators, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and student groups including the Black Action Plan, a student group seeking structural change at Brandeis, and Undergraduate/Graduate Student Unions conveyed a need for more transparency and clarity in the Public Safety role and greater engagement with key partners, said Stanley. They emphasized the need for Public Safety to deviate from portraying a militaristic police appearance, surveillance and culture. 

Among several major themes generated from the brainstorming process was the need to delegate responsibilities across departments. According to analyses of incoming calls to Public Safety, around 72 percent of calls were not law enforcement-related. Nearly 30 percent of callers could have been served by individuals with some training and almost 50 percent of callers could have been helped by Community Living, Facilities or other staff. A prospective solution to this problem is to improve call redirection technology to better match a community member’s immediate needs with the service most suited to help them. 

Other ways in which community feedback can be implemented include developing an effective way of communicating complaints and commendations and a publicly available website detailing policies, protocol, training and data metrics to enhance transparency. 

Stanley expressed optimism about the search for the new Chief of Public Safety, saying that many candidates align well with the vision of the Reimagining Team. She notes that while the new responsibilities of the chief are extensive, the combined efforts of the community members and key campus partners will make the transition smooth and effective. “If any school is going to be a model, it’s going to be [Brandeis],” she adds. 

A search input form is also available on the university’s Chief of Public Safety Search Process page, where community members can put in input or questions regarding the committee’s selection process, according to the page.The search committee consists of 11 faculty members, three undergraduate students and two graduate students. 

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