In the past year, the University Police Department (UPD) has increased their training and decreased arrests.
According to their 2017 Annual Report, despite the increase in calls for service (9,580 in 2017 from 6,698 in 2016) the number of arrests has decreased from 141 in 2016 to 125 in 2017. Calls for service range beyond arrestable offenses from stolen property, to medical assistance, to escorts.
Just because those calls have increased doesn’t necessarily mean there was more in crime,” said University Police Chief David Dugatkin. “It tells us that with the arrests, my officers are using discretion and that not every encounter has to be an arrestable encounter. We understand that college students are here and they’ll make mistakes. We are here to keep them on the right path and make sure they finish and graduate.”
This is the first report that Dugatkin has ever compiled and he is pleased with its comprehensiveness. He says that UPD wants to be as transparent and present as many statistics and information as possible.
Additionally, UPD conducted their first campus-wide survey seeking the opinions of those who have recently called and needed police services to serve as their “report card” evaluating customer satisfaction, feelings of safety and quality of police services. According to the survey, 37 percent of students strongly agree that they feel safe on campus.
“I’m happy [about the percentage],” Dugatkin said. “But it certainly tells us that we can do better, and we want to hear that and make efforts to bring that number up every year that we do this.”
Dugatkin is particularly proud of the 2,538 hours the department spent training on topics ranging from LGBTQIA+ issues to opioid overdose in addition to responding to incidents. He said that LGBTQIA+ training was meant to bring awareness to the officers about the community and the laws that protect them.
“We want to be able to keep up with what the needs of that community and any community needs from us,” he said. “We want them aware of the current terminology they use, the current laws that are on the books that protect them as well as all races, creeds, religious beliefs.”
UPD has also hired six new officers, several of whom entered in as certified police officers. The new officers include University Police Officer (UPO) Janae Myers, UPO Tyler Pece, UPO Steven Shadick, UPO Greg Candela, UPO Antonio Stenta and UPO Matthew Hart. Campus Public Safety Officer Justin Larchvesque was also brought on in 2017. Ryan Williams was also promoted from UPO to Lieutenant in January 2017. Williams was hired in December 2004 as a UPO. He attended the Police Academy in Dutchess County and has been certified as a police instructor in general topics, firearms, taser, active shooter response and narcan.