posted on: Thursday March 23, 2017
by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18
Asst. News Editor
“More and more police officers is not the solution,” said Major Jack Leyden, executive director of the Office of Safety and Security at Providence College. “We need to come up with a unified way to address safety off -campus.”
Since the start of this spring semester, the College has discussed and looked into the prospect of hiring additional security from an outside company to work as a “taskforce” on and around Eaton Street on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The proposed idea would provide additional security off campus, and would provide an additional liaison to the Providence Police Department and to the College.
On Friday, February 24, Stanley Vieira director of citizenship and off-Campus life, held a focus group meeting to receive feedback from students regarding the taskforce. “The additional security would not be put in place to get students in trouble, but would serve as additional security for safety measures,” he explained.
Students voiced their concerns and asked questions about how the relationship between students, the task force, and the Office of Safety and Security would work, and it was suggested that students living off campus attend an orientation regarding safety in the fall. Vieira stressed that the point of the security detail would not be to break up off-campus parties, but would be utilized to make off-campus living as safe for students as possible.
“I think it is extremely important, if not completely necessary for the school to ask students for their feedback on this,” said Morgan Itz ’18, chair of the student life committee on Student Congress. She explained that students who live off-campus or who often frequent off-campus are more aware of “off campus” life, and their feedback would be very beneficial.
The security company being considered for hire is Allied Universal, the largest provider of security services in North America. Boston College currently uses the company for additional security off-campus, and the City of Providence hired Allied Universal last summer for Kennedy Plaza downtown.
Negotiations are still taking place, but the College did hire the group for the Black and White Ball this past semester. According to Major Leyden, whenever there is a major event, extra security is hired to supplement PC’s. In the past, for large events such as the spring concert, the College has hired from another service called Strategic Security Group.
Major Leyden explained that the security detail will act as witnesses to assist police, students, and security. “They would be extra eyes and ears, and would contact both us and the police during an incident,” he said. Leyden also emphasized their role as communicators and that he hopes students will see them as a beacon of safety.
Itz, as a student living off campus next year, explained that she is in full support of hiring additional security. “As being one of the few houses down from the Eaton street gate, and someone who can see the security guard from the backyard, I do feel more safe than some of the other students living further down on Pinehurst and Pembroke,” she said. “It seems the further you go on these side streets, the nicer it would be to have security watching.”
Regardless of the student support, other students at the focus group meeting explained that communication with students about hiring extra security is of the utmost of importance. Students explained that if an off-campus orientation was to take place, the new security team’s role off campus needs to be properly explained.
Leyden explained that the introduction of a task force will start as a pilot program, since security wants to be as open minded to new solutions as possible, and they are willing to try different methods to achieve what is best for the off-campus community. “We’re looking for lasting solutions to increase the safety of our neighborhoods,” said Major Leyden. “The answer is not just more police, but something dynamic that involves the police and the College.”