By Stephen DiFiore
UPD Chief Dayton Tucker updated PSGA officials on security related matters on campus, including body cameras for police officers and access control in buildings.
In order to “bring some transparency,” Tucker said the UPD is finalizing plans to require officers to wear body cameras, following a national trend on police accountability.
“We think it’s important. Students think it’s absolutely important,” Tucker said. “We want to bring some transparency.”
Tucker said the plan had been delayed because UPD and SUNY were unable to agree on which body cameras would be best to use. Tucker wants cameras that have the longest possible battery life, but those cameras tend to be more expensive.
“We tightened up our policy with regards to body cameras,” he said. “We found the best product.”
Tucker said that he expects the body camera plan to be implemented during the beginning of next semester. If it is implemented, Purchase would be leading the state in this regard, he said.
“For some reason New York State has been very slow,” Tucker said. In Westchester County, “White Plains was the only place that has fully adopted body cameras.”
In addition to body cameras and cameras around campus buildings, Vice President Alli McCloat requested that the UPD look into installing cameras in parking lots in the event of car collisions.
The other major area of concern for the UPD is access control in the campus buildings. Currently, buildings are open all day to anyone who wishes to use them. Ideally, Tucker’s plan would require a card swipe for any classroom using a More Card. And a similar system would be in place for campus residences as well.
If implemented, Tucker said this would make students safer during an active shooter situation, and would allow students to “shelter in place” safely because these rooms could be locked during in the event of an active shooter.
The system would also prevent the issue of art being stolen from the Visual Arts building. During the last academic year, pieces of student art were stolen from the VA building, and police suspect they were stolen by people outside of the Purchase community. Under the new system, only students would have access to the academic buildings.
Tucker also spoke to how the UPD has improved interactions with the community. He mentioned their expanded internship program, which allows students to be involved in campus law enforcement, as well as regular meetings he has had with student leadership after the PSGA’s no confidence vote against the UPD a couple years back.
Additionally, with regard to the increase in reported rapes in the 2018 Clery Report, Tucker credited bystander intervention training with helping people navigate the proper procedures for reporting sexual assault.
“We think that bystander intervention training has been very successful,” he said.
He also mentioned that interns are currently working on a video project to teach students on how to report those crimes.
Senator Steve Kollias (Comm.) asked Tucker how many female police officers are on staff for the UPD. Tucker said that of the 25 police officers in UPD, three officers are female. This is due to the lack of applications from women. And there is no guarantee that female police officers will accept job offers from Purchase because their presence will be in high demand everywhere.
“We would be happy to welcome more,” Tucker said.