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DSC suffering security officer shortage

By Gregory Layton
On January 31, 2012

Dixie State College has a "dangerously low officer-to-student ratio," according to DSC's annual campus security report.

According to DSC's report, the number of officer-to-student ratio is one campus police officer for every 1,840 students. The FBI considers Virginia Tech a safe campus school with an officer-to-student ratio of 1-750. DSC ranks last among all other Utah higher education institutions.

Student enrollment numbers at DSC has grown over the last few years, but this isn't the only number increasing. According to the report, campus police is seeing a rise of known drug abusers, registered sex offenders, ex-convicts and mentally troubled students. So why is the officer-to-student ratio at such a number?

This is due to insufficient funding, an enlargement of officer duties, and an increase in student enrollment, said Don Reid, director of security and campus police.

Reid said crime stats were pretty low during the bad economy. To save money, campus security used fewer personnel to cover multiple areas such as complaints, fines, parking permits, activities and night coverage.

"We shouldn't have just been looking at just 10 years ahead," Reid said. "We should have been looking toward becoming a university, and we should have been hiring personnel as our student enrollment went up."

On the other hand, the report documents the strengths of DSC's campus security. The hiring and recruiting process is held to a high standard, Reid said. All officers have to be category 1 police academy graduates. It is required that each officer be a certified emergency medical technician, have a college degree while working for a higher degree, and have certain standards.

"Right now I have the best crew I have ever had," Reid said. "They have years under them, they have experience, and they are just a group of good guys."

Students are not the only people benefiting from campus police service.

"We have great support from our campus police at school events and activities," Dean of Students Del Beatty said. "I call them a lot. If I'm meeting with a student that I think could be potentially harmful, or hurtful, I ask [campus police] to be around my door if something bad happens."

Harmful actions do happen. The shootings at Virginia Tech are an example of recent unfortunate events in a college setting.

According the report, "the number of known people with concealed weapons permits on campus has tripled in the last year."

Campus security is keeping a closer eye on gun possession, Reid said. Last semester there was an incident where a student saw a man with a gun under his shirt. The student didn't feel safe and considered leaving the college.

If campus security gets information about gun sightings they will conduct an investigation. If a person has a concealed weapons permit but doesn't keep the weapon concealed, the issue will be brought before student affairs.

Representatives of DSC are requesting an increase in the amount of funding from legislature for campus security.

"It can't happen until June, and it has to be legislature that makes the decision," Reid said. "We need at least two officers right away."

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