Troy University has a full staff of 14 campus police officers for the first time as of this fall, according to University Police Chief John McCall.
While TUPD has always been allotted 14 positions for new officers, McCall said administrative budget problems and issues with allocations of funds held the police department back from filling them.
Former Senior Vice Chancellor Hank Dasinger encouraged McCall to fill the remaining slots and bring the force to maximum capacity while arranging the funds for payroll and associated costs in spring 2019.
The on-campus police department had only nine officers before, but the new hires brought the force to 14 full-time officers. McCall said he is hopeful to get to 18 full-time officers for the department.
Football games are a particularly trying time for university police, as the number of people they protect goes from roughly 8,000 to sometimes more than 25,000, and while the university can call on Troy PD, Dothan and Montgomery officers, McCall said more officers on campus were ideal.
“We could have 10 officers, which we did last year,” McCall said. “Ten officers ain’t going to cut it.”
The chief expects to implement a plan where the university officers patrol campus, so they can react to incidents outside the game, allowing other departments to man the stadium and work inside.
McCall said he has had to “pull people out of the game to go respond,” to trouble outside the stadium, which detracts from the number of officers protecting those inside.
New officer Jake Sleasman is fresh out of the academy. As this is his first police assignment, he said he looks forward to his time spent here at the university.
“Everyone’s got a ton more experience than me,” said Sleasman. “It’s great because it means I can learn a ton more while I’m here.”
Students should expect to see more officers patrolling on campus, especially with increasing enrollment.
“The recent addition to university police gives me a sense of security because now I know there will be more people patrolling and responses will be faster,” said Zack Johns, a junior computer science major from Niceville, Florida.
Many students on campus feel the same way, including Resident Assistant Zoey Rowell, a senior psychology major from Pensacola, Florida.
“As an RA, sometimes the university police are called in response to an incident,” said Rowell, “Knowing that there are more officers means someone can be at my dorm quicker, it makes me feel better about the safety and security of my building and all my residents.
“This is a major concern for me and all other Residents Assistants so we appreciate the increase in officers immensely.”