Private security personnel to patrol USF campus

11/19/07 Seán Kinane
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Last month, University of South Florida students concerned about a lack of security on campus protested in the administration building and asked the university to hire more police.

About eight University Police positions are vacant, in part because officers leave for to work in nearby police departments like Hillsborough County or Tampa, where they can earn much higher salaries. But USF has hired AlliedBarton Security, a private security company, to provide unarmed officers for the campus, especially student dormitories.

The university is hiring these new security officers while it is in contract negotiations with the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) representing the University’s Police Department.

Mike Klingebiel is a sergeant with USF police and is one of the lead negotiators with the PBA. Klingebiel said the wages the university was offering were too low and that the duration of the contract was too long.

Ken Gullette, director of Media Relations at USF, said in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings there is an increased interest in safety on campus but that the university would not be able to pay the same salaries as nearby police departments.

PBA’s Klingebiel understands the university’s position, but still feels that he and his colleagues should earn salaries that are competitive.

Sherman Dorn is an Associate Professor of Education at USF and is president of the USF chapter of United Faculty of Florida, the university's faculty union. Dorn agrees that the university should offer its police higher salaries. He also questions why USF is hiring an outside security firm instead.

Klingebiel said the University Police should be providing the services that USF has hired the private company to perform, but that his department is working with the guards from AlliedBarton.

USF’s Gullette said that the contract with AlliedBarton will be in the range of $200,000. He said hiring the private company would relive some burden from the understaffed University Police.

But Klingbiel said investing in the University Police department would have been a better option.

Gullett says the University Police don’t have to worry about funds being taken away because of the university’s contract with AlliedBarton.

The timing of the university hiring the private security company could look like USF was trying to influence the negotiations between the Police Benevolent Association and the university, according to Klingebiel.

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