Department of Public Safety reorganizes, enhances BU police force

Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Kalyn Story | Staff Writer

An external review of the Baylor Police Department by Margolis Healy & Associates resulted in the reorganization and enhancement of the Baylor University Police Department, including the hiring of a new police chief.

Baylor’s vice president for facilities and operations, Brian Nicholson, sent an email to students, faculty and staff Wednesday afternoon with information about improvements Baylor’s Department of Public Safety has made since commissioning the review.

“One of our critical goals is to ensure the campus community is up to date with [Baylor University Department of Public Safety’s] latest accomplishments and current projects, which demonstrates our commitment to protecting the students, faculty and staff at Baylor University,” said Mark Childers, associate vice president for public safety and security.

Some of the improvements mentioned in the email include adding 11 commissioned officers and two dispatchers to its professional staff of 38 officers and 10 dispatchers, making the department the third-largest law enforcement agency in McLennan County.

Since 2014, Baylor has also hired a full-time Clery Act compliance manager and Clery Act associate to assist with compiling the university’s Annual Fire Safety and Security Report, which is available online. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act, passed in 1990, requires all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to share information about crime on campus and efforts to improve campus safety, according to the Clery Act’s website.

The email also lists solidifying their partnership with the Waco Police Department by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize the ongoing working relationship between the agencies as an improvement made in the past two years.

Childers said the majority of the improvements were strategically developed and implemented by Baylor University Department of Public Safety Command Staff after assessing the then-2014 security posture on campus, visiting Yale and Virginia Tech and reviewing nationwide campus safety and security best practices.

“This initial safety and security assessment, along with the valuable Margolis and Healy recommendations, resulted in the successful development and implementation of a comprehensive and efficient security platform that exists today at Baylor University,” Childers said.

Katy sophomore Abby Graeflin said even though she has never felt unsafe on campus, she is very thankful for improvements to make it even safer.

“Since freshman year, I have appreciated how the [Baylor University Police Department] visit dorms, extra curricular and other Baylor-sponsored organizations and events to show their support in keeping our campus safe,” Graeflin said.

Graeflin said she appreciated how detailed the email was in explaining each improvement and said it satisfied any questions she may have had about campus safety and the police department.

“I know that I can call the [Baylor University Police Department] if I ever feel unsafe or in harm’s way,” Graeflin said. “Knowing that there are emergency polls on campus that work 24 hours everyday and cameras I believe that [the Baylor University Police Department] is doing a great job. I know that they always put the safety of Baylor’s students first and that means a whole lot to me.”