On Friday Oct. 20, the Board of Trustees for the University of Dallas came to a consensus to establish a police department at UD.
At this meeting the Board also decided not to move forward with the proposed adult education program as a means to raise funds for the university.
The university has submitted an application with the State of Texas to create a police department, which is pending approval.
Once it is approved, the university can proceed with hiring a police chief as the first step toward creating this department.
According to President Thomas Keefe and Vice President John Plotts, the administration have a specific candidate in mind for chief of police, and are in discussions to hire this individual.
“We’ve found someone who is sensitive to the sort of ethos we want to maintain: somebody who is looking to bring in people who are going to be part of the community, not hold themselves outside of the community,” Keefe said.
This police chief will be in charge of hiring subsequent personnel, for a total of six commissioned law enforcement officers and six campus security staff.
“We hope to be able to start a gradual implementation of this. It depends upon the availability of the candidate we’ve selected to head up the effort. It will be somewhere between November 1 and January 1,” Keefe said.
Discussion about creating a UD police department began last year after the university opted out of a Texas state law which allows concealed carry on college campuses.
After consulting with students and faculty, the Board ultimately decided not to allow concealed carry on UD’s campus.
However, this raised the concern of how to make the campus more secure.
According to Keefe, the administration has reached out to the Irving police to invite them to use the the UD campus as a site to practice tactical routines during summers.
“They are very very familiar with our campus and the response time from Irving [PD] has been remarkable, generally less than five minutes,” Keefe said. “But I promised I would look at whether there were additional things I could do for campus safety.”
The final decisions rested on the Board members coming to a consensus, though Keefe was able to give his recommendation as president of the university.
“I emphasized that our number one responsibility before everything else here is to keep the students safe. I asked them one question: ‘Do we believe the students are safer if we have some police force on campus or not?’ And at the end of the day the unanimous decision was that they may be just marginally safer,” Keefe said.
The question of when the creation of the police department will be implemented also depends upon the budget.
According to a meeting summary compiled by Keefe and sent to board members, the board approved a three-year fiscal plan which includes a “tuition rate increase, an increase in the number of new transfer students and a decrease in the new freshman discount rate.”
The summary also states that the president did not recommend the approval of the adult degree completion program, or “New College” which was considered last spring.
Keefe felt that “the cost to continue the discussion was not offset by the potential gains.”
A special committee was created instead to look into strategies to increase the admission of transfer students.
“The three-year fiscal plan approved by the Board is dependent on an increase in the number of transfer students admitted to the University; therefore, the recommendations of this committee will be critical to achieving the fiscal projections of the three-year plan,” according to the summary.