Senior Vice President Marna Whittington will appoint a police official within the next two weeks who will replace the University Police director as the top safety officer on campus. The new "police commissioner" will oversee the University Police Department and coordinate security efforts across campus. Over the past year, Whittington has coordinated a massive increase in the size of the University Police Department and the area that it covers. Under the new configuration, Director John Logan will run the department's day-to-day business, but the commissioner will take over Whittington's policy-making role for the department. The commissioner will oversee the police, the victim support department and a group of security guards who Whittington said will be hired this fall. "I am hoping that this person will take over some of the things that I have done," Whittington said. "I look to this person to lead the effort that we outlined in the spring." Whittington said last night all the finalists she interviewed were from outside the University, and she plans to name the commissioner by next week. The search was conducted by a professional recruiting company, and Whittington said that applications came from across the country. Logan declined to comment about the new commissioner position yesterday. The new commissioner will take over a police department that has undergone drastic upheaval in the past year. Since last September, the department has hired 31 officers and now boasts a staff of 75, department spokesperson Sylvia Canada said Wednesday. It has five new patrol cars and plans for a new headquarters at 40th and Walnut streets. Even the department's name has changed from the "Department of Public Safety" to suggest a new, more-professional image. The commissioner will also have to help renegotiate the officers' contract when the current pact expires next summer. Two years ago, a month-long strike split officers from Logan and the University administration after the University refused to make the union contract comparable with Philadelphia Police pay. Canada said that although the officers know that a commissioner will be hired, they have not been told how it will affect them. "I understand there is going to be a lot of reorganizing," Canada said. "They [the officers] have an idea things are happening, but they don't know what." The commissioner will oversee a new department of University security guards who will replace private guard services, Whittington said. Currently, at least four firms patrol campus, and Whittington said the University will begin a pilot program in the animal laboratories, the University Museum and the School of Arts and Sciences. "This would allow us control of who is hired, [including] qualifications and background checks, and it would also give us direct supervision," Whittington said. In the past, the security guard company that covers the residences has come under fire for hiring a guard with a criminal record and having guards fall asleep on the job.Comments powered by Disqus
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