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Penn’s Division of Public Safety is searching for its next Vice President, following the retirement of Chief of Police and Vice President Maureen Rush last year.

Credit: Avi Singh

The Division of Public Safety acknowledged the work of Penn’s safety personnel at their first in-person commendation ceremony since the pandemic began.

The event was held in the Carol Ware Lobby and Roy Auditorium on April 14. Awards were given to University of Pennsylvania Police Department officers, PennComm Operations Center personnel, and Penn Patrol security guards. Graduating seniors of the Penn Medical Emergency Response Team were also recognized at the event. 

Prior to the pandemic, DPS held commendation ceremonies twice a year to give special recognition for cases or responses that they felt deserved merit. The events were postponed once COVID-19 shut down in-person gatherings, according to Interim Vice President of DPS Kathleen Shields Anderson.

The event opened to the sound of bagpipes and a parade of flags. Following a prayer by Penn Chaplain Charles Howard, Senior Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli and Anderson made remarks.

In her speech, Anderson also acknowledged that DPS was not the only entity that upheld safety around campus, and that DPS valued the input of their partners across the University – including College Houses and Academic Services.

Five special awards were given to  individuals who responded to incidents around campus this past year, including the officer who arrested the suspect who carried out the shooting in front of the McDonald’s on 40th and Chestnut Streets, and the officer who evacuated employees at that same McDonald’s location after a grease fire erupted in their back kitchen. 

UPPD Captain Nicole McCoy was awarded with a UPPD Unit Citation for her work supporting eight Penn Medicine vaccination clinics around West Philadelphia. 

Every spring commendation, graduating seniors who worked for MERT are recognized by DPS for their work they do to help students and the community feel safe around campus, Anderson said. Twenty students were awarded for their commitment to MERT at this year’s event.

Two new Penn police officers, Christopher Craig and Gary Fanning, were also sworn in at the event.

According to Anderson, the commendation ceremony was a chance for DPS to publicly showcase the work of DPS officers and Penn community members affiliated with public safety at the University. 

“First responders are typically people that do it because it is their mission -- they don't do it for recognition, they do it because it's important,” Anderson said. “It is important to recognize that good work so they know the community appreciates the work they are doing.”